Energy from rubbish

Wasted Paper The Dumping Site
A landfill site

After you have reused and recycled your metal, glass, paper, plastics and fabric, there is still a lot of waste to dispose of. Most of it is ordinary household waste. I lousehold waste is usually dumped in landfill sites. These arc places where somebody dug stone or metals out of the ground and left a big hole. You can fill that hole with rubbish.

Powerful machines break up the waste to make it smaller. On many dumps, people and machines separate the rubbish for recycling. Dangerous things like car batteries

(which contain acid) and old refrigerators (which contain dangerous gases) arc made safe. Then they are sent for recycling. When the landfill site is full, you can cover it with earth.

There is too much waste, and there are not enough landfill sites. Many towns dump their rubbish on landfill sites a long way away. They have to use valuable energy to take it there. There are problems too. Decaying waste on rubbish dumps produces toxic chemicals which leak into the earth and pollute it. That is what happened at Love Canal. Some governments have made laws saying that all landfill sites must have a lining - a plastic sheet to separate the rubbish from the earth around it, like the plastic lining inside a swimming bath. But many old landfill sites do not have this plastic sheet.

Decaying waste also produces a toxic gas called methane. Methane smells bad, and it can explode too. But methane can be useful if you collect it carefully. A pipe under the rubbish dump collects the methane and takes it to a small power station. There it is burned to produce electricity.

It is also possible to burn rubbish to produce energy. The smoke can be toxic, so you need to do it carefully. Some countries have 'Energy from Waste' plans. In Denmark, Japan and Switzerland, more than half of ordinary household waste is now burned to produce electricity.

Sewage and animal dung also produce methane. If you put this waste in a closed container, it decays and produces methane gas. This can be used to make electricity. Many villages in India and China use methane to provide heat and light for their homes. There is also a wonderful example of recycling in the east of England. A big chicken farm, which produces meat and eggs, also produces tonnes of dung. Dung is a good fertilizer, but the factory produced too much. Nobody wanted it. So the farmer built a small power station which produces electricity from chicken dung.

And now - the last word on household rubbish. A scientist in Belgium has discovered a way of producing oil from household rubbish! If we can recycle waste to produce oil, this will help to conserve energy and reduce pollution.

Waste Management And Control

Waste Management And Control

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  • RIKU
    Can you generate energy from methane in rubbish dumps?
    8 years ago

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