The company IST Energy has developed a shipping container called Green Energy Machine (GEM) which can turn trash into electricity and heat. The machine is very useful for office parks, universities, hospitals and town municipalities that could get their electricity from their own garbage disposal. A major factor is reduced costs from garbage disposal and as well reduced CO2 emissions from combustion. The machine does pollute as it’s using a process called gasification, but not as much as combustion.
Some clean-tech companies are already trying to combine gasification with renewable sources of fuel, mainly municipal solid waste or biomass.
The GEM unit has a length of three parking spaces and can use food, cardboard, plastic or agricultural waste. Metal and glass should be recycled as they have no energy content.
The Green Energy Machine can convert 95% of the waste into usable energy, the maximum quantity per day being of up to three tons of trash. The remaining 5 percent is ash. From three tons of trash a day, a green machine is able to provide enough electricity and heat for a 200,000 square-foot building holding about 500 people. Fed the maximum of three tons of trash the machine produces about 120 kilowatts of electricity and about double of that in heat. This will sustain about 15 percent of a building’s energy needs.
The company evaluates the cost of the machine to around $850,000 and will have a payback in three to four years. IST Energy hopes that this year they will sell around 5-10 machines.
For the end user the machine is very simple to use. Trash goes into the machine through a loader shredding the garbage. Then the moisture is removed and pellets are made of the shred garbage. The pellets are put then into an air-fed gasifier which generates what is called a synthetic gas, or producer gas, containing mostly hydrogen and carbon monoxide. That gas is the fuel for making electricity or heat.
It seems that waste may become a valuable source of producing energy in the close future.