Waste To Energy: A Step Forwards Or Backwards For Ohio?

by Laura Michelle Burns

Ohio is now the 12th state in the nation to recognize waste heat as a renewable resource. The passing of Senate Bill 315 brings the potential for great change in my state. Governor Kasich has said:

Ohio’s new energy policy also promotes clean-energy generation. While Ohio’s manufacturers are certainly big energy users, they’re also potential sources of clean energy. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that as much as 2,000 megawatts of energy could be generated by capturing and reusing the waste heat in Ohio factories. That’s enough to power more than 1.4 million Ohio homes. To help encourage this, Ohio’s new energy policy adds waste heat to the list of clean-energy sources, along with solar and wind, that can earn special “renewable energy credits,” credits that manufacturers can then sell for extra income.

Waste to Energy is a procedure that will take the thousands of pounds of trash in the Greater Cleveland area and convert it in a specially designed plant that is equipped with the most modern pollution control equipment. The reduction in trash volume would be fantastic for our Northern coast…the addition of jobs would be welcome, and the potential for clean energy is encouraging.

As a mother, I often find myself asking for the definition of things. To me the term,“snack” means one thing, but to my 3 year old son, it’s a whole different ballgame that often includes cake. In our society, we have to stop and ask for definitions because everyone approaches life with a different set of values and opinions. What’s important to me may not be important to my neighbor. The more I read on the topic of waste to energy, the more I see a disparity in the definition of clean energy.

My definition of clean energy includes the need for zero to low emissions. Especially those that do not include carbon or soot! I don’t want to see the lives of those around me change for the worse as we delve into innovative sources for energy that have repercussions that may worsen the situation. I don’t want to see one toxin replaced by another the cause and effect of each choice we make.

Ohio ranks 7th in the nation for energy consumption. Yes, we need a better solution. According to Forbes, China’s waste to energy plants are a lucrative business. These plants wind up burning more coal than trash…and in less financially stable cities, the pollution controls are often turned off because they are too expensive to maintain. This is just one of the reasons why there is resistance among parents and residents toward the introduction of a waste incinerator in Cleveland. In the name of clean energy, Ohio does not want to be greenwashed.

We need reliable energy sources. We need healthy children. Healthy families need strong Clean Air Standards.

Please support stronger limits on harmful soot emissions.


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Photo credit: Moms Clean Air Force

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Janet F.
Janet F.3 years ago

Ken W...GOP...Grand Old Party...aka republicans

Ken W.
Ken W.3 years ago

Wast is the gop !

Casey Loufek
Casey Loufek3 years ago

Laura Michelle Burns you literally do not know what you are talking about. Waste heat is NOT the same thing as garbage incineration. The fact that you are confusing two completely different technologies may explain your confusion over "clean energy".

Jeff, Monica and Joel obviously spent a lot more time researching this than the blogger. Waste Heat to Power is not the same as Waste to Energy (which may or may not be incineration.) Industrial manufacturing makes a lot of heat and this heat can be captured and used rather than simply venting. It's like recycling but with energy.

Of course in your rage about something unrelated you didn't notice that and so spread scientific misinformation over the internet. This sort of thing makes me sick, you are no better than Fox news and your reckless lack of fact checking is the sort of thing to give ammunition to anti-environmentalists and climate deniers. You should be ashamed.

Michael C.
Michael C.3 years ago

I have grown so weary of having to listen about America's Energy Needs, the following is the answer to many of the alleged needs for more energy to waste. Thermal Depolymerization.
Guess what...Your Government does not want you to realize its success as an industry.

1. Hydrolysis (aka depolymerization)

..H-C-O-R + 3H2O => C3H8O3 (glycerol) + 3 CH3-(CH2)14-COOH

where R = CO-(CH2)14-CH3

Of course, there are many different fatty acids that occur, rather than the palmitic acid (C16) shown. However, for the sake of calculating the yield, the choice of fatty acid (typically in the C12 – C18 range) would have a fairly minor affect. Thus, palmitic acid will be used as an example.

2. Decarboxylation

CH3-(CH2)14-COOH => CH3-(CH2)13-CH3 +CO2

3. Product Degradation

CH3-(CH2)13-CH3 => 7C + 8CH4

Product degradation is necessary to explain the presence of carbon and low BTU gas in the products from TDP. While the actual reactions are likely to be very complex, the balanced reaction shown will suffice for the purpose of calculating yields.

Michael C.
Michael C.3 years ago

Do you want an answer to this problem? Read the following, it is the answer that you seek.

Thermal Depolymerization (TDP) is a depolymerization process using hydrous pyrolysis for the reduction of complex organic materials (usually waste products of various sorts, often biomass and plastic) into light crude oil. It mimics the natural geological processes thought to be involved in the production of fossil fuels. Under pressure and heat, long chain polymers of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon decompose into short-chain petroleum hydrocarbons with a maximum length of around 18 carbons.

Thermal depolymerisation is similar to other processes which use superheated water as a major step to produce fuels, such as direct Hydrothermal Liquefaction.

The Changing World Technologies (CWT) process, is a leader in the fledgling industry.

Type of feed stock includes, plastic bottles, medical wastes, tires, turkey offal, sewage sludge, paper (cellulose), and the entire lists is quite long.

The process converts our wastes into usable products, such as, API 40+, a high value crude oil. It contains light and heavy naphthas, a kerosene, and a gas oil fraction, with essentially no heavy fuel oils, tars, asphaltenes or waxes. It can be further refined to produce No. 2 and No. 4 fuel oils.

The fixed carbon solids produced by the TDP process have multiple uses as a filter, a fuel source and a fertilizer. It can be used as activated carbon in wastewater treatment, as a fertilizer, or as

Jeff S.
Jeff S.3 years ago

"As Monica D. points out, "waste-to-energy" is a euphemism for incineration."

Not always. There are different waste-to-energy technologies being developed right now. Does anyone know which specific technology this proposed plant would use?

Jeff S.
Jeff S.3 years ago

I think this is a great discussion, but the author, I believe, may be confusing a couple different issue. The article leads off with a discussion about "waste heat" - waste heat is different than waste-to-energy. Waste heat is when an industrial process requires some material to be heated to very high temperatures (say 1000 degrees), then cooled off. The coolant might leave the industrial reactor, oven, or kiln at a lower (but still usefully high) temperature - for example, maybe the "waste heat" is 300 degrees. That left-over heat that is at too low of a temperature to use for the first industrial process could still be used to do things like heating nearby buildings, or maybe driving other, lower-temperature processes (like cooking food).

Joel Keller
Joel Keller3 years ago

There are certain components of trash that either cannot be conventionally recycled and some that cannot be recycled at all. Sure, its better to recycle than landfill, but pyrolysis is a widely used technology that can safely eliminate about 22% of what is currently landfilled.

Brian F.
Brian F.3 years ago

Recycling is a better alternative than gassification of trash.

Jane H.
Jane H.3 years ago

It sounds good to me!