The process by which waste is converted to fuel is generally aided by enzymes. An example of such an enzyme is Novozymes’ new Cellic® CTec2 enzymes. Basically, cellulosic ethanol uses “enzymes to break down cellulose in biomass into sugars that can be fermented into ethanol.” Apparently, Cellic CTec2 has been proven to work on many different types of waste.
Waste gasification it the process of converting garbage into fuel and electricity without incinerating it. To lean more about it, click the link.
Aside from conventional waste-to-energy plants, which use complete combustion (sometimes referred to as “incineration”) of discarded solid waste materials to generate heat and electricity, a number of processes are currently under commercial development to generate other energy products such as engineered fuels. Such fuels may include: synthesis gas, also known as “syngas,” an intermediary product of “gasification” or partial combustion generated by a partially air-starved combustion reaction and consisting of a mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and various trace gases; a variety of different alcohol products such as methanol, ethanol, or butanol; other liquid fuels generated by pyrolysis (like gasification, but with added steam to generate more saturated hydrocarbons) or various catalytic reactions. One promising route may involve conversion of feedstocks that are chemically similar to the desired hydrocarbon product, such as plastics (see citation 1) or catalyzed reactions now under license to Covanta, currently the number one waste-to-energy service provider in North America (see citation 2).
A number of other processes are also being offered such as enzymatic waste-to-alcohol conversion, and while it is not uncommon to see claims of breakthroughs in the area of all “waste conversion technologies,” a healthy skepticism (though not always outright rejection of the concept) is warranted given the knowledge that many approaches have been tried in the past but run into serious obstacles at various stages of development ranging from pilot to development to ultimately commercial scales.
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