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Instead of hauling food waste to landfills, we might want to use that organic waste to power garbage trucks, your car, truck or SUV while at the same time potentially helping the environment.
Organic waste such as yard trimmings, paper, wood and food produces millions of tons of methane emissions at landfills every year in the U.S., but it could produce renewable natural gas and liquid fuels such as gasoline and diesel, according to a study led by Uisung Lee of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. His paper, published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, helps assess the environmental benefits of various waste-to-energy production pathways while avoiding emissions of methane and other harmful air pollutants.
Study - Waste - Fuel - Greenhouse - Gases
"Our study shows that using what would otherwise become landfill waste to produce fuel typically generates less greenhouse gases than simply letting the waste decompose," said Lee, a postdoctoral appointee in Argonne's Energy Systems Division.
This is because landfill gas from waste contains high concentrations of methane, which has about 30 times higher global warming impact compared to carbon dioxide. Although the operators of large landfills are required to combust landfill gas, it is impossible to perfectly collect the gas and there is still a large amount of non-captured methane escaping into the atmosphere.
Methods - Fuel - Waste - Digestion - Fermentation
Methods to produce fuel from municipal waste include biochemical, such as anaerobic digestion and fermentation, and thermochemical, such as hydrothermal liquefaction, pyrolysis and gasification. The resulting energy products include renewable natural gas, bio-char, bio-oil and hydrocarbon fuels (gasoline, diesel and jet fuel).
Fortunately, the supply of organic waste is abundant, according to...
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