4 ways to harness waste conversion in industrial plants

As consumers increasingly request assurances about their products' and fuels' environmental impacts, industrial plants will need to find ways to dispose of waste efficiently and source their energy responsibly. One promising strategy is to combine the two processes by harnessing the latent energy in waste and converting it into a usable form.

The Value of Converting Waste to Energy

Converting waste to energy is highly advantageous, especially where available land space is low and power demands are high. Basic waste-to-energy programs have been around for decades, and some facilities have grown to be massive. For instance, Bermuda houses a vast waste-to-energy plant, the Tynes Bay facility, which was built in the 1980s. It incinerates nearly all the island's combustible waste every day, generating 3 to 8 megawatts of electricity to supply 5% of the island's daily electric power.

converting waste to energy means less waste ends up in landfills

Implementing waste conversion practices in an industrial processing plant offers several distinct benefits.

  • Less landfill waste: Converting waste to energy means less waste ends up in landfills, taking up valuable space and potentially leaking into the surrounding soil and groundwater.
  • Tax exemptions: Companies that deploy energy-from-waste technology often gain tax exemptions and save money.
  • Decreased garbage disposal costs: In many areas, especially where land is at a premium, waste disposal is expensive. Waste-to-energy programs represent a more economical option.
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions from landfills: Landfill waste emits methane as it decomposes. Though the processes that convert waste to energy also produce greenhouse gases, they generate fewer harmful emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that turning waste into energy can save 1 ton of greenhouse gases per ton of solid waste combusted.
  • Overall environmental health: The primary advantage of waste-to-energy conversion is its benefits for the planet. By creating alternative, renewable biofuels or generating thermal energy to power other factory processes, converting waste to energy leads us toward a greener planet.

Waste-to-energy conversion processes add value across a range of industries in facilities like these:

  • Agricultural processing plants
  • Cement plants
  • Forestry plants
  • Mine processing facilities
  • Waste processing facilities
  • Recycling plants

More facilities will likely implement waste-to-energy programs as producing each kilowatt-hour of electricity becomes more efficient and economical. The many benefits of waste conversion programs will soon outweigh the costs, as they already do in many scenarios.

Below are a few specific waste-to-energy conversion processes and how they create new fuels and increase green practices.

1. Pyrolysis

The waste-to-energy process known as pyrolysis most often occurs in the oil and gas industry. Pyrolysis burns organic waste matter like biomass, old tires, sewage sludge and plastics in the absence of oxygen to produce carbon-containing fuels like biochar oils and synthetic gas. The synthetic gas produced often has similar properties to those of natural gas and can provide quality heat and power.

If you're looking to add pyrolysis to your plant's operations, Waycon can be your one-stop shop from design support and fabrication.

Pyrolysis equipment is highly complex, usually including the essential reactor and condenser plus a transmission device, catalytic chamber, cooling tube, water-oil separator, draft fan and chimney, dedusting system, vacuum system and oil tanks. We have the fabrication expertise to combine these components into an easy-to-use turnkey system for turning your combustible waste into fuel.

2. Gasification

Gasification is common in the agricultural and mining industries. It uses heat, steam and oxygen to turn biomass or carbon-containing materials like coal into hydrogen, all without requiring combustion. Examples include turning leftover agricultural products like corn stover and wheat straw into hydrogen and liquid biofuels. The exciting and cost-effective process of plasma arc gasification uses electricity and extremely high temperatures approaching those of the sun to create plasma and break down garbage into usable slag.

When your plant is ready to add gasification to its processes and convert waste to usable energy, Waycon can provide the machinery you need. We can start from scratch, working with your design team to build the equipment that works best for your unique agricultural or mining operations. At Waycon, we can manufacture a complete gasification system for you, including the fuel feed cone, gasifier, oxidizer, boiler and steam turbine generator, to expedite your progress toward your renewable energy goals.

3. Thermal Depolymerization

Thermal depolymerization is common in the renewable energy and oil and gas industries. It uses a technique that heats waste to exceptionally high temperatures in the presence of water, mimicking the natural processes believed to be responsible for fossil fuel production deep within the earth. It converts various waste materials like biomass, animal byproducts, plastic, used tires, medical waste and sewage sludge down into crude oil products ideal for use as fuel.

Thermal depolymerization systems generally require several factory components, including pressure vessels, valves, pipes, heat exchangers and storage tanks. Whatever configuration you need for your processes, Waycon can fabricate industrial equipment and machinery to minimize your labor and enable you to take advantage of this exciting technology.

4. Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion is particularly useful in the agricultural and renewable energy industries. It uses microorganisms to digest waste products in the absence of oxygen, creating biogas, which contains primarily methane and carbon dioxide. The biogas can then go on to homes, businesses and industrial facilities to provide heat and electricity, power engines and run alternative-fuel vehicles.

Some waste products that commonly undergo anaerobic digestion include these:

  • Fats, oils and greases
  • Food scraps
  • Industrial organic residuals
  • Agricultural manures
  • Sewage sludge

Anaerobic digesters are generally large tanks that include complex configurations of components like slurry inlets, heating pipes, agitators, gas storage chambers and separate gas, slurry and sludge outlets. Waycon has the steel manufacturing experience and equipment necessary to build a complete system, so you can start seeing the benefits of anaerobic digestion in your operations right away.

factory components of successful waste to energy processes

Factory Components of Successful Waste-to-Energy Processes

An industrial plant needs multiple systems to help it process waste into fuel efficiently. Waycon can provide your facility or operation with quality custom fabrication and machinery for optimal function. Systems required for waste-to-energy often include the following processes:

  • Sorting and separating
  • Conveying
  • Custom fabrication and machinery
  • Build to print

We are happy to produce transfer conveyors, infeed conveyors, discharge conveyors, chutes, material silos, catwalks, staircases, support structures for process equipment and other parts to your specifications. Our knowledgeable teams are also available to consult with you about the fabrication components and systems necessary for optimizing your waste-to-energy processes.

Consult With Waycon for Renewable Energy

To expand your renewable energy capabilities, make Waycon Manufacturing your trusted provider for specialty waste management equipment.

We provide dependable turnkey solutions you can start using immediately to enhance your waste-to-energy conversion processes. We also offer complete engineering support from design to procurement to fabrication, assembly and installation, and our custom options mean you'll get exactly the equipment you need to convert waste to energy most efficiently. Our highly qualified teams have decades of experience and excel at working from blueprints to build quality equipment that will meet your operational needs.

Contact us today for a free consultation or to learn more.