Green Waste to Energy Conversion Technology

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An Exergetic Analysis of Proposed Green Conversion Technologies for New York City Waste

New York City’s Department of Sanitation has undertaken studies to explore the implementation of emerging waste to energy (WTE) conversion technologies as solutions to help solve the current unsustainable disposal of the City’s waste. The technologies considered focus on the organic and decomposable portions of the waste fueling electricity production. Of the options studied, anaerobic digestion and thermal processing technologies were best represented. This paper evaluates the average sustainability and efficiency of these two project options in terms of electricity production and emissions exergy.

In 2006, the Department of Sanitation in New York City (DSNY) created their Final Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) to address the future of the 50,000 tons of waste generated in the city each day.[1] Many of the goals for the plan hinge around increasing sustainability of the City's waste management system by constructing disposal facilities in or near the city and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One of the more innovative focuses of the City is to incorporate emerging conversion technologies into the treatment of waste streams.

In 2004, after the 2001 closing of Freshkills and before the SWMP was complete, a Phase I study took place evaluating numerous waste and conversion technologies, and the different companies that were developing them. Later, in 2006, a Phase II study was completed, detailing the technologies found most feasible for wide-scale implementation. Included in this Phase II in-depth study looks at anaerobic digestion, thermal processing, and hydrolysis. A preliminary comparison of the anaerobic and thermal processing waste to energy approaches from the Phase II including data from other studies on approaches for dealing with municipal solid waste (MSW) in regards to environmental and economic sustainability has been done.

  1. DSNY Final Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan- Executive Summary. September 2006, ES-1