How to recover energy and resources from MSW and organic waste

At Waste-to-Resources in May 2015, experts from around the world present their practical experience and latest technologies for sustainable waste management.

Overflowing landfills, increasing demand for energy and resources and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are drivers for change in waste management systems.

When it comes to energy recovery, waste incineration is often the first thought. Waste incinerators can handle large amounts of municipal solid waste (MSW), reduce volume drastically and recovery energy from what we throw away.

But there are challenges in this approach to handling waste. Incinerators need a constant flow of fuel. It is difficult for them to deal with variations of the amount of waste. Water doesn’t burn. Humid waste that is typical for many Asian countries, is not a good fuel for incineration and the energy yield will be low. Construction costs for incinerators are high and often exceed the ability of local municipalities to get financing for such projects. Incinerators are most efficient with high capacities - often more than medium sized towns can supply.

In these instances, incineration falls short and can be complemented or replaced by mechanical and biological waste treatment technologies, which are more flexible.

Mechanical biological treatment (MBT) follows a different approach to mass burning. Most MBT plants divide their (mixed) input into a wet fine fraction for biological treatment (composting and / or biogas production) and a dry coarse fraction that allows picking out recyclables and that can become a solid fuel with high energy content. The process upgrades waste to quality solid fuel (RDF/SRF) for efficient energy production and can even produce biogas from wet trash.

The market is full of promising technologies, but which is the right one to choose? What is approved and how is the economic viability? How do MBT plants perform over a long time and how do they compete with other technologies?

The single best place to learn about MBT is where it’s being done, by the folks who know the most about it. That happens only once every two years in Germany at the Waste-to-Resources conference and exhibition, founded ten years ago by the renowned MBT expert Dr. Matthias Kuehle-Weidemeier, CEO of the Germany-based waste treatment specialists Wasteconsult International.

This year, in cooperation with Germany’s association of MBT operators (ASA), the event will gather experts from 17 countries to present their knowledge.

The conference will cover a wide range of topics, including:

• Waste management strategies, new waste treatment technologies, source separated collection
• Anaerobic digestion of organic waste fractions
• Practical experience, optimisation and new developments
• Functionality, economic efficiency and life cycle balance
• Energy recovery by refuse derived fuel (RDF) power plants and cement kilns, liquefaction
• Conditioning, use and sale of output fractions from mechanical and biological treatment
• Hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC)

With participants from up to 41 countries attending previous 5 editions since 2005, Waste-to-Resources is the world’s largest conference on MBT.

The combination of conference, commercial exhibition, and site visits will make Waste-to-Resources 2015 a prime event for operators, authorities, consultants, and technology providers. The conference will be held from the 5 to 8 May in Hanover, Germany.

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