Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Holidays

In this photo (left to right), with Professor Nickolas Themelis and Liliana Themelis are research associates Maria Elena Diaz Barriga, Natali Ganfer, Caludine Ellyin, Ranjith Annepu and Ljupka Arsova.
Natali is doing experimental work on Landfill Gas Usage as a Fuel for an Engine, Lowering the Emissions and Improving the Performance with the Combustion and Catalysis Laboratory and also WTE Implementation in Argentina.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Waste-to-Energy predictions for 2011

Investment bank Cascadia Capital has published its predictions for sustainable industries in 2011, one of which is that waste-to-energy, helped by rising oil prices, will be more widely adopted. Cascadia specifically mentioned InEnTec, which was recently honored as 2010 Top Innovator by the Wall Street Journal, that uses new technologies to transform industrial, household and even medical waste into electricity and fuel for transport and also mentioned Plasco Energy Group which also uses plasma waste gasification technology. They predict that oil will rise to over $100 per barrel, which will encourage investment in waste-to-energy and also lead to increased use of natural gas making it a more viable energy alternative. As a result, traditional energy companies such as BP, Chevron and Shell will acquire more renewable energy technology companies, including waste-to-energy. Among its other predictions is that Congress will abandon cap and trade in favor of policies that focus on gas, nuclear andrenewable energies.

Original Post at Waste Business Journal

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New SWM plan for New York

New York has finalized a new solid waste management plan - focused on minimising waste up front - for the first time since 1987.
New Yorkers produce more than 14 million tons of waste each year, 20% of which is recycled and the rest is destined for landfills and waste combustors. The plan - Beyond Waste: A Sustainable Materials Management Strategy for New York - sets forth a new approach for the state, shifting from focusing on "end of pipe" waste management to reducing waste from the start. This plan provides a framework to municipalities, businesses and the public  that can help minimize waste, increase the use of materials that can be reused or recycled.

Original Post in Waste Management World
on Dec 15th, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A glimpse at WTERT's Director Nickolas Themelis's work

Turning Waste into Energy

In recent years, Nickolas Themelis has devoted his career to the management of household trash—a fitting occupation for a professor originally from Athens, where the ancient Greeks created the first municipal garbage dump in the Western world near Athens in the sixth century B.C.E.
The engineering professor has overseen a global consortium of experts dedicated to waste management and waste-to-energy research from his desk on the ninth floor of the Seeley W. Mudd building.
Themelis founded the Waste-to-Energy Research and Technology Council (WTERT) in 2003 as part of the Earth Engineering Center, which he directs, at Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. WTERT offshoots now exist in Greece, Germany, China, Brazil and Japan, with others planned in France, Britain, India and Mexico. The mission of the consortium is to promote research and innovation in sustainable technologies such as recycling, composting, waste-to-energy and landfill gas capture, as well as to share information among developed and developing countries.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

EPA updates WARM

The USEPA has released an updated version of the "Waste Reduction Model" also called WARM.

WARM is a detailed model based on life cycle analysis (LCA) for calculating and comparing the changes in green house gas emissions and energy usage with change in waste handling techniques. It is developed to "help solid waste planners and organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy savings". It is available in two forms, one of which web based calculator is much easier to use than Excel spreadsheet, however in terms of functionality, the Excel spreadsheet which could be used on desktop offers more.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Energy Recovery Council (ERC) releases 2010 Directory of Waste-to-Energy Plants

The Energy Recovery Council today released the ERC 2010 Directory of Waste-to-Energy Plants, which provides current information about the waste-to-energy sector in the United States. In 2010, 86 plants operate in 24 states and have capacity to process more than 97,000 tons of municipal solid waste per day. According to the latest BioCycle estimates, 26 million tons of trash were processed by waste-to-energy facilities in 2008. While this amount is less than the 28 million tons processed in 2006, it reflects reduced waste generation during difficult economic times rather than decreased waste-to-energy capacity.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Techniques and timelines

A city or town can be envisioned as a thermodynamic system with a continuous input of materials and energy, generating work and wastes as output. Most material chains in today's globalized cities are open loops, starting as raw materials and ending up as wastes in landfills. They are not sustainable as the materials move in a single direction resulting in significant depletion of natural resources and causing environmental degradation over time. The creation of natural resources involves energy inputs which are embodied in the wastes that are generated at the end of material loops. Thus, closed material cycles where materials and energy are recycled or recovered hold a key to sustainable world.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dioxins from WTE and coal-fired plants

QUESTION SENT TO Nickolas Themelis (NJT):

Dear Dr. Themelis,

My name is Nathan Walker and I work as an Environmental Scientist for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in SE Idaho. I have recently been doing research regarding waste to energy technologies for the tribes and just finished reading your 2009 Waste Management article entitle Waste-to-Energy: A review of the status and benefits in USA. I enjoyed the paper and found it informative, but was left with a nagging question that I thought you might be able to answer. The majority of the figures used to compare WTE technologies to fossil fuel energy production, especially coal, were not normalized to anything. For example, when you talk about dioxin emissions you attribute 12 g/year to WTE and 60 g/year to coal fired power plants, but fail to take into account how much coal and MSW was burned, or how many kWh were produced. If the mass/year emissions values were presented as mass/year/kWh, or mass/year/ton, or simply as a concentration of flue gas would the MSW emission values continue to hold up? I appreciate your time and look forward to your response.

Nathan Walker

Dear Nathan, there was no intention to castigate coal plants for dioxin emissions because both they and the WTE plants emit very little (by now 6 grams TEQ for WTEs and about 60 g TEG for coal fired power plants). The big dioxin emitter now according to EPA is "backyard barrel burning" (fireplaces, burning grass, etc. etc.,) amounting to about 550 grams TEQ, plus all the fireworks on the 4th of July. Even that 550 grams is insiginifant for a country the size of the U.S.