Study: Non-Recycled Waste Key to America's Energy Strategy
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and University of Texas at Austin have released a new study reaffirming the value of everyday waste as a clean, abundant, affordable source of domestic energy.
The study, completed by Michael Webber, Ph.D., and his team of university researchers, demonstrated that fuel engineered from non-recycled plastics and other materials could successfully power a cement kiln located in Texas. The research showed that fuel engineered from waste could serve as valuable fuel for not only cement kilns, but potentially for other energy intensive commercial and industrial operations.
Dr. Webber's research reaffirms the benefits of energy from waste. In the case of the fuel developed and used in the study, the energy content surpassed that of some forms of coal. Dr. Webber's team found that if only five percent of unusable materials from recycling facilities were diverted from landfills to energy recovery, it would generate enough energy to power approximately 700,000 American homes annually. At the same time, the reductions in carbon emissions as compared to coal would be equivalent to removing one millions cars from U.S. roads, and there would be significant reductions in sulfur emissions.
“In this case, one person's trash truly is another person's treasure. Americans send tons of waste to landfills each and every day, meaning that one of America's most abundant and affordable sources of energy ends up buried in landfills,” said Cal Dooley, president and CEO of ACC. “It's time we got smart and made energy recovery a central part of America's energy strategy.”
“The findings from our study demonstrate how engineered fuels can make a meaningful contribution to our nation's strategy while reducing carbon and sulfur emissions compared to some forms of energy,” said Dr. Webber. “The combination of environmental benefits, emerging science and economic opportunity make recovering energy from waste an opportunity that we can't afford to ignore.”
The engineered fuel that is the subject of Dr. Webber's latest research represents one of many promising methods being developed to harness the energy from waste. The field of energy recovery is one of the major parts of ACC's “From Chemistry to Energy” campaign.
ACC advocates for a comprehensive national energy strategy that maximizes all domestic energy resources, with a focus on robust and responsible production of domestic shale gas; improved residential, commercial and industrial energy efficiency; and expanded adoption of energy recovery programs. Each will help meet national energy security, economic and environmental goals while creating value for communities.
To learn more about the “From Chemistry to Energy” campaign, please visit ChemistryToEnergy.com. Join the conversation on Twitter using #Chemistry2Energy and follow campaign updates at @AmChemistry and blog.americanchemistry.com.