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Household garbage: The Fuel of The Future

The demand for energy is constantly increasing and energy prices continue to rise. At the same time, international conflict further jeopardizes our nation’s energy security and the devastating effects of pollution on global warming continue to mount. These factors have led consumers and industry to call for a better solution to the world’s energy needs. Some suggest that one solution might be found in an existing and abundant source of energy – household garbage.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 2018, landfills across the country were filled with 146.1 million tons of waste, including household garbage. This is the equivalent of Soldier Field being filled 1,200 times. Left untouched, this landfill waste creates air, land and water pollution contributing to climate change – not to mention the physical space it occupies. However, recent decades have seen innovations in converting landfill waste into renewable energy in the form of steam or biofuel. Since such waste is readily available for conversion into biofuel and will not deplete the limited natural resources of our planet, it is considered a source of renewable energy.

As an integral part of the clean energy revolution, biofuels offer many advantages over other fossil fuels like coal and petroleum. Further, biofuels increase energy security for this country as an alternative to our dependence on fossil fuels. Today, you will find the expansion of industries seeking biofuels across the globe including in Asia, Europe and North America.

For instance, the airline industry is looking to reduce the impact of the emissions they produce, thus reducing their climate change impact. A key aspect of that effort is transitioning from traditional fossil fuels to biofuels – specifically low-carbon sustainable aviation fuel.

There may be several methods used in the production of biofuels. One is gasification, which is a process that turns landfill waste into syngas. Gasification does not involve the burning of waste, and instead involves heating the waste in a chamber with low oxygen so that it is converted directly from solid to gas form. Gasification of waste avoids the release of large quantities of emissions into the air. Consequently, the gasified waste can subsequently be converted into sustainable aviation fuel in an environmentally sound manner.

Sustainable aviation fuels can help greatly in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing sustainability in the energy and air transportation industries. With an eye on conserving our natural resources, it is time for us to reuse our society’s garbage in an environmentally-friendly way, rather than continuing to dump it into landfills.

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