Reiterating Future Scope of Waste-to-energy (WtE) Technologies

Waste-to-Energy (WtE) technologies have created significant buzz in the global landscape over the last couple of years. Waste-to-Energy technology, also referred as energy-from-waste (EfW), involves electricity generation from the primary treatment of waste. Waste treatment typically leads to energy generation in the form of electricity or heat, and even in the form of transport fuels including diesel.

Subsequently, waste treatment is used for different types of wastes including the semi-solid waste, such as thick-ended sludge produced from industrial plant, liquid waste/domestic sewage and gaseous waste from gas refineries. Although, use of WtE technologies for treatment and processing of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is on the rise over the past few years. Incineration has gained significant prominence for processing the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in a contained heat and power (CHP) plant.

Source of Urban Sustainable Energy

Ever-growing population growth and incremental pace of the global urbanization along with the economic expansion among emerging economies has accelerated rates of municipal solid waste production as per numerous reports published by World Bank.

Substantial importance has given for proper MSW management alongside the right control of polluting effects caused on the environment leading to climate change. Municipal solid waste is increasingly become a preferred and a precious resource for the urban sustainable energy, and looked down as potential solution for future energy crisis. Furthermore, municipal solid water is becoming an attractive investment option as it is received at a gate fee; negligible in comparison with other fuels that are used for energy generation. Lower primary investment will create a long lasting impact and encourage the WtE plant operators to speed R&D activities.

Processing methods:

WtE process offers an energy recovery by converting chemicals from waste-based residues into tiny practical forms, thus generating of energy like electricity, heat or steam. In line with recent developments, thermal conversion technique is leading the market among WtE technologies.

Municipal solid waste exhibits lower calorific value, thus it is possible to incinerate into tiny particles; leading to adequate thermal energy generation. While, pre-treatment of MSW into refuse derived fuel (RDF) is considered to be highly effective.

Incineration process is widely popular, particularly for municipal waste with calorific value of the input feed till 7MJ/Kg. Biochemical processes are preferred for MSW treatments during unavailability of any complex collection techniques or higher water content. Gasification process involves production of “syngas”, which is highly combustible in a gas turbine with 30% efficiency.

Rising Number Challenges

Although, growing concerns regarding poor efficiency of waste-to-Energy (WtE) technologies, absence of set of standards, and economic and technical factors are posing as major challenges to the adoption of these technologies. Besides, development of WtE technologies that use MSW as feed are getting backslash pertaining to the poor consistency of the composition during the waste treatment, highly complex design of the treatment facilities, and the air-polluting emissions.

Future Scope

Several efforts are made by manufacturers, researchers to put different perspective for development of WtE projects. Over the coming years, development of alternative processes to incineration will take a central stage dealing with all the social, economic and environmental issues; enabling the decision making process of this technology.