Incineration to efficiently produce energy from waste a fantasy

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    Energy from waste: sounds good, but in reality just a pipe dream.

    ‘In its conclusion, the study finds that: “This review has shown that when appropriate system boundaries are applied, a pyrolysis plant for self-sustaining EfW is thermodynamically unproven, practically implausible, and environmentally unsound…


    MSW pyrolysis cannot yet be considered as something which can sustainably provide energy for society…it is essential that proper energy balances are determined and in place at the outset, made possible by the first law of thermodynamics, and with a consideration of total plant energy and resource use. Furthermore, and in keeping with the historic pursuit of perpetual motion, it is imperative that the second law of thermodynamics is not simply ignored…”’

    The article itself includes:

    ‘This study has found that the status of energy use and efficiency awareness in the pyrolysis of waste sector is at best poor, and that the failures of previous plants are not merely teething troubles of a new industry but due to fundamentals flaws with the concept in general and how it is presented, seemingly based on bias towards the theoretical plausibility of a technological innovation. Such ignorance (whether simply lack of knowledge, blind optimism, or intentionally ‘turning a blind eye’), has recently been suggested as an explanation for why those promoting or supporting MSW pyrolysis systems receive subsidy rather than censure.’

    ‘Patented blunderings’, efficiency awareness, and self-sustainability claims in the pyrolysis energy from waste sector


    ‘although waste incinerator emissions have decreased significantly since the 1990s, in response to Clean Air Act regulations, they still pump pollutants like mercury, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide into the air. Wheelabrator Baltimore, for example, emits lead, which is implicated in a host of health effects, including developmental delays in children, and methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. A 2006 EPA analysis found that in 2000, incinerators were the fourth largest source of dioxins, highly toxic substances that the agency says can cause cancer.


    For those reasons, not every state welcomes garbage burners: Waste-to-energy giant Covanta applied to New York State in 2011 to get incineration into the RPS. The state Department of Environmental Conservation reminded the company that it decided not to include incineration in the RPS when the state’s policy was first created in 2004, because a few years prior, New York trash incinerator facilities were found to release six times the amount of mercury as the average coal-fired power plant.’


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