Sustainability Issue: Air Pollution from Coal Burning Power Plants
In the United States, coal burning power plants emit 1.7 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and are primarily responsible for climate change. Burning coal is the top source of CO2 emissions globally and a leading factor in smog, acid rain, as well as toxic air pollution.
Sustainable Technology Solution: Fossil-Fuel Free Power Plants
A power plant in the northwest of Stockholm, Sweden has committed to only burning renewable and recycled fuels in an effort to combat CO2 emissions that lead to global warming. Sweden is hoping to phase out fossil fuel use by the end of this decade and one method is by converting coal burning power plants to biofuels and garbage. The aforementioned plant, which is located in Vasteras, Sweden has started to work with the Swedish-based clothing store H&M who by law, must discard any clothing that has been contaminated with mold or does not meet the countries strict restrictions on chemicals. In 2017, the plant used 15 tons of discarded clothing from H&M. Although, most of their garbage-based fuel is supplied from the 400,000 tons of trash from neighboring towns and trash that is imported to the plant from areas in Great Britain. The plant currently provides energy to 50,000 households in Sweden and at its peak in 1996 it burned approximately 650,000 tons of coal. But, just last week, the last coal carrying ship came to Vasteras to supply the plant with just enough to last until 2020 when they will completely phase out their fossil burning furnace. They also recently added a wood-fired boiler to supplement the biofuel and trash burning units on the plant’s site.
Power Plant Owners and Operators
Multinational Clothing Company
City Waste Management Agencies
Air Pollution Federal Agency
Air Pollution Non-profits
Create a sustainably-minded Public-Private Partnership between City and Multinational Corporation who manufacture clothing
Collaborate with Aging Power Plant looking to incorporate new technologies
Model system after plant in Vasteras, Sweden by phasing in biofuel and trash burning options with the addition of a wood-fired boiler on site.
In first year of implementation set goal of 20 tons of discarded materials from the clothing manufacturer and 100 tons of municipal trash.
If successful, set a goal of 10 years for full phase-out of fossil fuels.
Problem: Landfills and sewage plants produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas and contributor to climate change. At the same time, the world’s demand for food, especially those high in protein, is soaring.
Two companies – Calysta Inc. (CA, USA) and String Bio (India) have independently discovered processes for converting landfill biogas to protein.
Methanotrophic soil bacteria ferments the methane to protein in a water-based solution, which can be dried into an edible powder.
The protein is currently added to animal feed, whilst human consumption trials are planned pending further purification.
The product can be used as a fish-meal replacement, which is currently sourced from wild commercially-caught fish, the populations of which are under immense pressure from over-fishing.
StringBio aims to commercialize these systems to a domestic level for community waste-to-protein initiatives.
1. The Problem: Methane Emissions from Organic Waste in Landfills
(Categories: Waste, Energy)
Organic waste disposed of in landfills does not decompose properly and emits methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. The emission of methane into the atmosphere not only contributes to global warming, it also wastes a valuable potential source of energy.
2. “Carbon Negative” Anaerobic Digestion Biogas Upgrading Plant Opened in Italy
Tecno Project Industriale, a Milan based company, has recently completed the first “carbon negative” anaerobic digestion plant in Italy.
Using only the organic portion of municipal solid waste, the plant produces carbon dioxide and methane.
The carbon dioxide will be used in industrial processes and the methane will be added to the national natural gas system.
As the new plant is the first of its kind in Italy to emit less CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere than it takes out of it, it marks an important step towards a more sustainable, less carbon intense economy.
Main stakeholders for this technology are local and municipal governments, specifically waste and sanitation departments. Private businesses and investors can also create innovative public-private partnerships and business structures to make this a viable investment opportunity.
4. The First Three Steps for Deploying this Technology:
Finding a suitable site
Financing the project
Creating a municipal organic waste collection program to ensure long term reliable feedstock to the plant