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Trash Burning Power Plants

03/22/2009 1:24 PM

Good Afternoon Everyone...I have been away for awhile so if this post is redundant I apoligize...My thirteen year old daughter Leah is participating in a science fair where she elected the topic "Trash Burning = Energy" We are ex pats living in a country where trash accumulation is a staggering problem and lack of sufficient energy is worse. So the topic intrigued her. She has spent countless hours doing research and now is looking to a more "educated" forum to provide opinions. We are not really looking for tech solutions or advice, but more so the "Opinions" of the CR4 family. Kind of a list of notable quotes that she can use to get her audience saying Hmmm?. Any rambling is welcome...Pros, cons, experiences, doubts, ways to make better, etc, etc..

Thank You for your valuable time

PS No, I am not doing her work for her, I just think that the experience of getting views from real people will be a positive experience. You may address her direct as Leah if so desired. Thanks again.

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#1

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/22/2009 3:03 PM

Well I wouldn't advise BURNING trash for energy (releases lots of harmful toxins into the atmosphere), but dumped trash in land fill creates methane which can then be burnt to generate power. This works quite well, and a big landfill can generate many MW 24 hours a day for years.

Google "landfill methane generation", or have a look on CR4 for previous posts and threads by myself and others on the subject.

Since this is a science fair project, also look at the following link on a company using plasma to destroy garbage and generate energy (fairly cleanly and efficiently). Solves two problems in one go.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=plasma-turns-garbage-into-gas

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#2

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/22/2009 11:16 PM

GA there Jack.

What is Leah actually required to do, simply compile a report on how electricity can be generated from burning trash, or construct an actual working model? If it's a simple report, you can get useful data here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incineration_plant

If it's a working model, it's going to be a big project, since your incinerator must come with a boiler to generate the steam, a steam compressor to deliver the high pressure steam, a steam turbine and generator, a steam recovery and return system, and an air scrubber system to remove pollutants from the exhaust. It would be a lot simpler to construct a biogas digester fed by MSW, and then use the biogas to heat a Stirling engine that turns a generator.

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#26
In reply to #2

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/26/2009 11:32 PM

steam compressor?????????????????????

Surely you jest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#3

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/22/2009 11:18 PM

Try this:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/saving/recycling/solidwaste/wastetoenergy.html

Try a google search "Waste to Energy" this is where I found this article.

After seeing the waste burnt in the open,close to downtown in Phillipsburg, capital of St Marteens, versus the waste burning plant in St Barth. It only make sense to burn the waste to provide energy instead diesel or coal. The waste will have to be disposed of regardless. With careful sorting/recycling there are very little heavy metals left in the ash.

Vic

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#4

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 8:35 AM

I live in CT and there is a quasi governmental company that has done this for years. See link http://www.crra.org/.

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#5

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 9:41 AM

As I recall, London, England, used to generate electricity by burning trash. They used oxygen, not air, which produced lots of heat and very little visible exhaust at the top of a tall stack. Things like tires burned nicely, even the steel beads. The only trash that didn't burn was glass; molten glass was tapped off at the bottom of the burning chamber. It appeared to be a splendid solution to the trash disposal problem, but those downwind (France) objected to very fine particulates which were thought to be harmful to health, so the plant was shut down. The above is based on 40-year old memories, so there may be errors.

Another, even older scheme, in Sweden, I believe, involved power generation by burning paper mill waste, including the sulfite liquor, by pumping the goop (slurry) into a boiler along with compressed air. There was "wet combustion", oxidation of the wastes, and the result was a mixture of steam, air, and combustion products, which included, I imagine, nasty sulfur oxides/acids. That memory is about 60 years old, so fact check me before repeating.

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#6

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 10:23 AM

Leah,

In the United States, burning trash for energy is not uncommon. I live in a small city in New Hampshire where our trash is picked up and delivered to a purpose-built power station for burning. The heat from the burning trash runs the boiler which in turn runs a steam turbine which runs a generator. Paper mills also burn bark in their boilers, and there are even some plants that burn wood chips generated by construction waste.

If you contact New Hampshire Public Service, they would likely be happy to provide you with more information.

You may also wish to contact Northeast Utilities in that the old South Meadow Station in Hartford, Connecticut was converted to burning trash at least twenty years ago.

In general, older, less efficient plants seem to be the best candidates for conversion because their steam requirements are typically of lower pressures than "newer" units constructed after the mid-1950's, and trash does not come close to having the energy density of coal or oil.

Good luck on your project.

Jerry

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#7

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 10:34 AM

it really depends what you mean for "trash". If you are talking about unseparated, as-is urban solid garbage, then burning it to produce energy is a very inefficient way to go. Too many toxins, micro and nano-particles, the ashes are hard to dispose of, too much humidity and operating problems/costs.

Ironically, if you can separate the "trash" into forms that are efficiently burned, you'll find taht it does not make any sense burning them anymore, because they become a resource for other uses. (you can use anaerobic digestion on food scraps, for example, and then burn the biogas to produce energy. But it will even better composting the waste and use it in parks or forestry).

In any case, the way to go would be

1) Reduce the trash.

2) Separate the trash in categories that can be recycled or reused

3) reduce the energy needs.

I read somewhere that humans are the only species that produces "trash". In the animal kingdom waste of one individual becomes a resource for someone else. I think we should go back to the principles.

Good luck to your daughter on her project!

M.

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#8

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 11:04 AM

Good topic. There are a number of things that I, as a science fair judge, would like to see: Photos of a commercial solid waste burning facility, and any info re BTU usage or electricity generated. If there are towns/cities near you that do solid waste burning, call the town manager or mayor and get connected with the facility manager to get some facts. Look at US patent # 7,252,691 re conversion of municipal solid waste to high fuel value..., and visit on-line, http://bioenergy.ornl.gov/papers/misc/energy_conv.html Many areas and countries around the world burn farm refuse, dead vegetable waste, such as corn stalks, sugar cane refuse etc on the side of the road or in fields. Find a BTU value for these kinds of wastes and build on that "waste" as a source of power generation, either as heat/steam or as electricity. Talk to stores or manufacturers who make or distribute wood pellet burning stoves for valuable data on energy output from burning waste wood, compressed sawdust, etc. This will get you started. Your daughter may also want to have a chart or a table of the BTU values for natural gas, coal, oil and nuclear as electrical generation fuels for comparison. How much land area is devoted to municipal trash? Google sites such as Smokey Mountain in Manila, which is the major solid waste refuse for a major city. Good luck!

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#9

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 11:05 AM

A new way to destroy household trash and generate electricity uses Plasma Gasification (google it). You will find that this is the most efficient way to handle ALMOST any trash, even toxic, and still generate more electricity than is needed to keep the plasma going.

Japan has two of these in operation. The USA military has had one running for several years. It was designed to eliminate our warfare gasses!!

I was surprised that the USA trash problem got ZERO discussion during the presidential campaign. It is a very serious problem which effects watersystems, housing, health, etc.

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#20
In reply to #9

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/25/2009 1:40 AM

Fort Pierce Florida is planning to "mine" an old landfill and burn the material in plasma "domes" (cupolas). The plan is to scrub the "off gasses" and burn them in combustion turbines. The turbines would run combined cycle and the hot water/steam produced would be sold to Tropicana for processing oranges - the power would be sold to the grid. If this scheme works it may be a way to remediate some of our not so environmentally friendly landfills.

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#10

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 12:04 PM

The U.S. EPA's Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) is a great resource for information:

http://epa.gov/lmop/

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#11

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 2:04 PM

I have worked on many power boilers that use waste as fuel. This waste can be allot of different things such as household garbage, old tires, bark and trees etc. I would also like to say that if built right they do not pollute near as bad as a poorly made landfill producing tons of methane as well as possibly contaminating the ground water too. The new technology of fluidized bed waste fuel boilers with the scrubbers and percipitators in place for the smoke that is put out are really clean burning and super efficient because the fuel is very cheap. The good thing about burning garbage is plastic that has a very long life after it is disposed of and would not produce any burnable gases in a landfill is what burns so well and holds millions of BTUs. We currently have a very large waste fuel boiler in our mill that burns wood bark chips and chipped up tires and it does a great job. The EPD constantly monitors the boiler discharge and if an excursion happens it is truly hell to pay. With this in mind we run our boilers with the idea that the environmental aspect is number one over all else except human safety. I don't think most people realize how boilers that burn fuel are ran and monitored by the state and federal EPA, EPD's in the USA. The laws are set up in a way that it is beneficial to the companies to run them correctly and not to pollute.

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#12

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 2:49 PM

We are working with a project in Alamo, Texas where first stage treatment is methanogenic digestion with the methane burned for electrical generation. The digested residue is used to feed a multistage pond system that grows biomass for feedstock to make ethanol for motor fuel while treating the city's wastewater. After flowing through 3 different treatment ponds, the effluent water is cleaner than the water entering the system from the Rio Grande River. The City should be able to power its entire fleet of vehicles from the fuel from the ethanol plant. Lignin from the ethanol plant is also burned for electrical generation and to provide process heating. You may contact me at oertg@aol.com for more information.

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#13

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 3:31 PM

Please Google "Ogden Martin". They run multiple trash buring plants.

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#14

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 3:58 PM

Well, so far so good....The forum is doing exactly what I was hoping...She now has more questions than answers. She is now burning more energy (No pun intended) than ever chasing down your links, suggestions, unknown terms, etc...In case anyone is curious, we live in the Dominican Republic, and if you have ever been here, outside of the resorts that is, you can see why the topic is appropriate.

Thanks to all!!!

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#17
In reply to #14

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 4:43 PM

Try google "biodigester" you will links to efforts in your areatoo

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#15

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 4:12 PM

If she needs pictures or a general drawing of a waste fuel boiler I may can help. let me know.

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#18
In reply to #15

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 4:45 PM

Anything would be a great help...You would not believe how excited she is with the posts, she checks every minute to see if there is something new...It is amazing, the interest has jumped 10 fold. As an aside, I don't know what part of North Georgia your from but I spent some time up in Cartersville when the AB Plant was built. Beautiful Area

You can send photos, pifs or dwgs, etc. to sosindustrialsa@gmail.com

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#22
In reply to #18

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/26/2009 8:04 AM

Hey, I am about 30 minutes north of Cartersville. Let me see what I can get together and I will try and send you some info. today.

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#16

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 4:13 PM

Check out:

NASA Langley

Also google "NASA Langley trash to energy" for a lot more related links.

Hooker

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#19

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/23/2009 5:43 PM

Many years ago in Providence RI, USA the city burned trash and produced steam which they then sold to the local power company situated near by. I have no stats on it but they didn't need a landfill. I know when I was a lad and worked in a grocery store we would bring all our boxes and other trash. They would open large doors when they enough trash and dump it into the burning trash. It created an extremely hot fire.

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#21

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/26/2009 5:42 AM

When you burn the trash the heat combines many different toxic chemical into super toxins in the exhaust .

Try breathing the fumes from buring plastic and other products with chemicals in them.

Try and find a product that is natural for that matter in a dump.

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/26/2009 8:12 AM

In Hartford's Trash to Power plant (CCRA) they scrub the exhaust after removing most of the particulate with huge filter bags. The atmosphere in monitored in many areas around the plant for comliance. I do not know if the plant would be shut down if the air quality became bad enough but I think there might be a provision for it.

Happy breathing

Bob

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#24
In reply to #21

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/26/2009 8:41 AM

Actually with todays technology the exhaust of a trash burner is pretty clean. We also have a large coal burner and a black liquor boiler and the wood bark / old tire (trash) boiler is the cleanest or easiest to get the exhaust to permitted levels.

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#25

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/26/2009 4:54 PM

No Knoledge in this except Denmark does this now and has been. Perhaps look there

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#27
In reply to #25

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/27/2009 1:56 AM

Platt's publishes a directory that lists every power plant in the USA and Canada and the fuels & technologies they use. There are many that burn municipal waste and things such as old tires. These plants run a lot cleaner than some of the coal burning relics that are still in service. Edmund

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#28

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/30/2009 4:58 AM

There is a waste burning plant in London, England not far from London Bridge station.

There is a good view from Google earth:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=London+bridge+England&sll=34.471512,-114.34757&sspn=0,359.990462&g=London+bridge&layer=t&ie=UTF8&ll=51.486033,-0.047057&spn=0.002509,0.004769&t=h&z=18&iwloc=addr

Properly run plants do not produce hazardous exhaust. They seem to be an eminently sensible way to dispose of waste.

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#29

Re: Trash Burning Power Plants

03/31/2009 5:22 AM

Leah,

from Sleepy

I understand that Singapore does this- Garbage to Energy - I believe that they also produce hot water for heating but I am less sure of this.

http://www.asiasgreen.com/category/directory/energy/renewable-energy/

If this doesn'y work just Google "Singapore waste to energy system"

The google search should give you many more hits and if I remember correctly this facility is on a separate Island albeit very close to Singapore main lsland.

Good Hunting,

Sleepy

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