As more and more governments and businesses are racing to find efficient and reliable solutions for providing energy, the one option that is both widely achievable on a house-by-house basis, as well as tackling two major environmental issues is turning household waste into fuel.
We know there are already many organisations that are doing this on a large scale, collecting household waste from large areas and turning it into energy in Waste to Energy plants. However, arguably a better way to benefit from this is to produce energy on a household basis. In this article we explore some of the reasons why this is a good idea and how we can practically turn our own waste at home into energy.
Reduce Waste Transportation & Limit Landfill Use
Let’s take for example the UK, where they throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink waste as a population every year. Every bit of this waste is collected by local council services and transported some distance, eventually disposed of at landfill sites across the country.
The impact on the environment is twofold in this case. Firstly, the heavy duty vehicles required to collect the household waste are less than environmentally friendly. On the surface this may seem like a minor point, however when you consider how heavy these vehicles are, how slowly they move and how long they spend idling, they contribute a large amount to traffic pollution.
In fact, recent figures show that the average efficiency of these vehicles is around 4.4 mpg. Transportation of waste obviously remains an issue even where commercial Waste to Energy plants are concerned, but can be remedied by turning waste to fuel at home.
The second and arguably more obvious impact of the traditional waste disposal process is that it requires a vast amount of land. Quite simply, by using home waste to generate energy we are able to limit the amount of rubbish currently going to landfill sites.
Up until now it has been technically difficult to create usable gas from household waste such as food leftovers. However, recent developments have made it easier than ever to produce energy from these wasted items. This has been made possible by a start-up that has created a user-friendly unit that can be used to collect left over food waste and turn it into biogas using the anaerobic digestion process. This biogas can then be used directly in the connected house for cooking, heating and even lighting.
For those with the ambition and technical experience, it is possible to produce biofuels and build your own biogas generator at home. Practically this is much easier in a tropical climate where the environment makes perfect conditions for the production of biogas from a wide variety of organic wastes. However, with the right equipment and insulation it is possible to do this in other climates.
Car Fuel from Household Waste
We are going to see a continuing rise in fuel prices across the globe. This fact is seeing a trend for eco car manufacturers to develop alternatives for traditional fuels, ranging from solar power through to electric. One alternative is fuelling your car on used vegetable oil. Practically, most diesel cars can be run off used vegetable oil with some minor alterations. This can be done by a specialist, but equally can be also achieved at home by those mechanically-inclined with specialist kits.
Arguably this may not be the most environmentally friendly option for fuelling cars as burning the oil for energy is comparable to diesel in terms of emissions. However, vegetable oil based fuels are carbon neutral due to absorbed carbon during the plants growing process. Also, when we consider the global issues with waste management, running our cars on vegetable oil is a smart solution.
Using household waste may not be as negative for the environment as media often paints it out to be. By limiting landfill and the harmful emissions generated during the waste disposal process we are able to create environmental benefits. We have also explored some of the practical ways you can use home waste to generate fuel for use in your home and for your car.
Giles Kirkland is an environmentally conscious car expert with passion for the newest green technologies. He loves investigating renewable fuel sources and sharing his knowledge with other clean tech enthusiasts. You can find him on Twitter and at Oponeo.