Instead of nuclear, why don’t we get energy from trash?

The New York times reported this week that Denmark and other places in Europe are using trash incinerators to create energy.

“For cleaner than conventional incinerators, this new type of plant converts local trash into heat and electricity. Dozens of filters catch pollutants, from mercury to dioxin, that would have emerged from its smokestack only a decade ago.”

Across Europe, there are 400 such “power plants”, making trash an important fuel supply.

You would think there may be reluctance from residents because of the worry of the stench of rubbish.

But residents have actually been enthusiastic about these incinerators which have been located in close proximity to housing estates.

Of course, clever management has kept the sight and smells of garbage away.

It has also meant a lesser need for landfills.

Likewise in Nepal, India and other parts of South Asia, it is increasingly common to get energy out of trash.

Known as biogas technology, it involves farmers collecting manure from cows in a specially adapted cattle shed where they feed; the farmer then mixes it with water and leaves it to ferment in a large concrete tank or pit.

Gas (of which 65% is methane) is produced as a by-product of this fermentation and the farmer collects it in a simple storage tank (manometer) from where he can then pipe it into his house when he needs it.

This form of technology powers lights in the house, the TV, cooking and the heater.

One added bonus of using this biogas unit is that women and children, freed from fuel collection, the cleaning of smoke-blackened utensils and the disposal of animal waste, have gained around two hours a day which they can now employ elsewhere.

It’s clear to see that trash conversion technology is catching on in both developing and developed countries.

We don’t have a lot of cows here, but manure can be substituted with the massive amounts of food waste which we produce.

Instead of pondering nuclear technology, and thinking of where to create more landfills, shouldn’t there be a feasibility study on such technologies to pave the way for a greener environment?

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