Q: What is waste to energy?
A: Waste to energy is the process of converting waste products into energy sources such as heat, steam or synthetic gas (syngas). This energy can either be used directly or converted into products including electricity and synthetic fuels. Waste products contain calorific energy which can be transformed into usable energy using waste to energy technologies.
Q: What benefits does waste to energy offer?
Waste to energy offers several benefits to the environment and community. With a growing population, waste to energy can produce energy to be converted into products such as electricity to meet the increasing demand. The increase in energy available will mitigate the effect of the increasing energy demand on our climate.
Compared to other renewables technologies such as wind and solar, waste to energy can reduce the environmental impacts caused by landfills. This process provides measurable benefits such as:
- Reduction in landfill and emission of Greenhouse gases to the atmosphere
- Reduces fossil fuels
- Increasing the ability to reclaim landfill
- Reduced health and environmental issues from the elimination of landfill of all waste strategies.
Q: What is gasification?
A: The gasification process extracts energy by breaking down solid waste material and converting this into a crude synthetic gas (syngas). This is a non-incineration process that exposes solid waste to high temperatures to heat the chemical compounds of the waste material, which in turn breaks down into a gaseous form called syngas. The remaining solid residue is further processed into an inert pellet suitable for use as a construction aggregate.
Q: How is gasification different from incineration?
Gasification and incineration are both thermal energy processes, however the key difference between gasification and incineration is the amount of oxygen used in the process. The incineration processes uses excess oxygen which reacts with the high temperatures in the chamber and therefore causes the waste to combust into heat, ash and a flue gas. The heat produced from combustion can then be used to produce steam which powers a steam turbine to create electricity.
Besides the amount of oxygen used in each process, the other key difference is gasification does not burn the waste products. Waste is fed into the high temperature conversion chamber of the gasification process, and is heated using high temperatures in a controlled oxygen environment. The lack of oxygen in the conversion chamber prevents the waste from combusting. The gasification process has significant advantages including being more efficient, converting 80 per cent of the energy in waste into syngas, and reducing the amount of emissions released.
Q: Does the gasification process any other products in addition to syngas and aggregate?
The gasification process does produce additional products. For every tonne of waste processed, the following is produced:
- 1.0MWh of electricity (net value)
- 300 liters of water for reuse
- 7 – 15 kilograms of metal
- 150 kilograms of construction aggregate
*Based on municipal solid waste with a calorific value of 14,200 MJ/Tonne
Q: What wastes can be processed?
Tersum’s proposed facility will process municipal solid waste (MSW) which is the primary waste stream sent to landfill each year. Municipal solid waste is generally household and council waste and some construction waste. The Tersum facility will process organic and inert waste from the community as well as waste produced by mining and oil and gas companies. We will encourage waste producers to recycle or reuse materials that can avoid being sent to landfill.
The following wastes can be processed
- Paper and cardboard
- Garden and park
- Wood and wood waste
- Rubber and leather
- Inert waste (including concrete, metal, plastic and glass)
Q: What Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines does Tersum adhere to?
A: We will adhere to the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) guidelines and The Environmental Protection Act (1986) to ensure the environmental requirements and expectations of the EPA are met during the environmental impact assessment process.
We will submit our proposal to the EPA for a thorough environmental impact assessment and ensure we have obtained our works approval prior to commencing any works on site and hold a licensing prior to the operational stage of the facility.
The environmental assessments ensure Tersum is minimising and managing their environmental and health impacts by installing pollution prevention equipment and monitoring equipment, meeting the emissions criteria, safe waste dispoal and regular reporting.
We will also be conducting regular testing of the emissions using continuous emissions monitoring (CEM) equipment to safeguard the health of the communities in which Tersum operates.
Q: How is Tersum minimising their impact on the environment?
We are using proven technology that has been trialed and tested and meets the best environmental standards. The gasification process has been successfully used for more than 30 years across Europe and North America, meeting the strict standards of European Directive 17.
By meeting the standards of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), and conducting regular testing of emissions we are guaranteeing a safe environment.