We generate a lot of trash as a society. The majority of the time it ends up in landfills or shipped overseas for a variety of purposes. What if that trash could somehow been harnessed for energy? That's the idea behind Covanta, a company developing energy-from-waste solutions. The company announced it now has its first energy-from-waste unit working in the United States under the EPA's New Source Performance Standards.
The chosen site is the Lee County Resource Recovery Facility, located in Fort Meyers, Florida. The Covanta energy-from-waste solution, says the company, lets the local municipality convert some additional 636 tons of waste daily into an additional 18 megawatts of electricity. This is an expansion of the location's prior abilities, in which it had converted "more than 4 million tons of waste in two 600-ton per day combustion units and generated enough electricity to power 26,000 homes." It can now generate enough power for 36,000 homes.
Energy-from-waste facilities, according to Covanta, take trash and put it into combustion chambers, reducing its volume significantly. The heat from this process warms up water in tubes in the chambers, turning the liquid to steam and sending it through a turbine which generates electricity. Covanta estimates the Lee County facility alone "has prevented close to 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions" while producing enough electricity to "eliminate the need to burn 1 million tons of coal or 4 million barrels of oil."
Zap Your Trash for Hydrogen
Eggshells to Energy
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