Incineration – a notorious name for air pollution. How engineering and process design make it sustainable?

Incineration – a notorious name for air pollution because of the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and oxides of nitrogen (NO and NO2, together known as NOx) associated in the process. It involves the operation of waste storage, feed preparation, combustion, ash handling, and disposal. Emission is associated with notorious incineration combustion. How does sustainability relate to incineration?

Operation consumes electricity. This is quite an inevitable fact, and this applies to incineration operations. Researchers had the energy analysis of the energy consumed in incineration and landfill with the transportation system. It showed that 406.08 GJ is consumed mostly because of transportation. Streamlining the operation process is essential in reducing energy consumption.

Waste-to-energy is the strategy of the sustainable incineration process. The state-of-art incinerator utilises its heat generated from combustion and facilitates boiling the desalinated water through the pipes inside the incinerator’s wall to produce steam. This process triggers the steam turbine to operate to create electricity. The desalinated water used in the process has to be of very high purified quality to avoid minerals condensed in the utility system. Water matters most for the waste-to-energy process – without the high-quality water supply, the whole incineration plant has no choice but to stop.

Waste-to-energy facilitates a self-sufficient incineration operation because of the automated electricity self-supply. The process closes the loop when the steam condenses after the turbine and becomes water again. It will then go back to the incineration process and repeat the power generation. The added value is when desalination is set up in the incineration plant. The site operator will benefit from the electricity generated and desalinated water supply for daily use as potable water.

Waste-to-energy management does not rely on fossil fuel for massive energy consumption to maintain the operation; the self-produced electricity off-sets the need to create power from fossil sources.

Another design to streamline incineration is by strategically locating the incineration plant near the coastline. The barge can unload the waste container and near the inert ash dumping ground. It dramatically reduces transportation distances and associated carbon footprint.

The primary aim of incineration is to destroy the waste we massively generated daily. By capitalising on the self-sufficient waste-to-energy innovation and design thinking, we can achieve sustainability in autonomous waste management and even for industries with vast energy and water consumption.

Video – What is sustainable operation?

By: ANewR Consulting Limited, a digital environmental consultant headquartered in Hong Kong since 2008. Our expertise has grown into the context of air and water qualities, noise, green building, waste management, and remediation. With extensive know-how in environmental planning and assessment, feasibility study and policy review, ecological design, monitoring, and audit (EM&A), ANewR has matured to be a leading management consultancy. Standing in the digital transformation reign, ANewR has participated in various environmental digital projects – interactive 3D visualisation, immersive automation virtual environment, Virtual reality, automation system, and monitoring platforms.
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