The other day at the waste incineration plant

From waste is made electricity for 250,000 individuals

And this is the highlight. The heat produced during combustion is used. On the one hand, to heat the nearby Ford plant. But this is just a nice side effect. The majority of the heat is converted into electricity by generators. And even that the power consumption of 250,000 individuals can be fulfilled. The waste incineration plant Cologne is hence essentially a power plant also provides a quarter of the town of Cologne with electricity. That sounds amazing. And as you might find the notion it is not too bad when a lot of garbage is produced — as it is used so nicely…

After combustion bottom ash, hot exhaust gas and residue remain. These chemicals are largely used again useful: The ash is chilled with water and stored in an ash bunker before it is processed at a bottom ash treatment plant and then used in road, landfill and landscaping. Residues from sorting and residues from the domestic and tight waste are distributed to the daily waste bunker on separate chambers. The bulky waste is pre-sorted and smashed. Just the non-recoverable parts are processed from the incinerator.

The household waste is sorted in a perforated drum to dimension and then passes on large conveyor belts so-called magnetic seperators. They remove ferrous scrap. Another ferrous metallic deposition in addition to an automatic non-ferrous deposition take place after combustion. They have been processed in external sorting, and therefore they may be used right to the domestic and bulky waste. The various waste streams are mixed completely, because this homogenization ensures a top quality, a uniform as possible burnout and a fantastic quality ash.

Recently a dream came true for me personally. That may seem odd. Sometimes I catch myself when I get stuck on documentary programs about recycling methods from the (rare) zapping through the TV stations. Obviously this subject fascinates me. Because I am also very interested in the subject Generation Y, I could kill two birds with one stone. The hot exhaust gas is used for electricity generation. It heats preheated water , which matches at a temperature of 400 degrees Celsius and a pressure of 40 bar to a turbine. This pushes the downstream generator by which is produced electric power. For own use just a small part of the energy is needed. The greater part is given in external electricity supply networks. The amount of energy created in the incinerator is sufficient to power more than 100,000 families.

In the combustion and the subsequent exhaust gas purification residual substances like salts and dust remain in addition to ashes from the boiler. These substances are collected and used as backfill material for the backfilling of salt mine . Gypsum can also be a waste substance, which is obtained as a reaction product from the exhaust gas purification and contains construction material quality.

Emission control: the exhaust gases are almost completely neutralized from the method used in the Cologne incinerator. There is not any waste water, in addition to the legal requirements are clearly undercut. As a neutral auditor, the county government receives the real exhaust gas readings permanently by direct line.

Rethinking at waste management businesses

After the guided tour, I had the chance to talk to the press officer of AVG. In this conversation it became apparent how much the thinking has changed in the sphere of waste management in recent decades and years. Even during the 1960s into the 1990s crap was piled up completely unsorted in landfills and then abandoned, at the new millennium they’ve recognized the value of the waste. Climate change and CO2 emissions have long pushed as important issues accountable for the residual waste processing. The heat generated during combustion is converted into electricity. Resources are recovered, as far as is technically possible. Notably metal, wood and plastics. The recovered plastic out of residual waste is used such as fuel for cement plants.

Waste incineration plant are now equatable to electricity plants, even when fuel value is not quite equivalent to the traditional fuels like coal, gas and oil. As an increasing number of municipalities have come to generate their own electricity by means of residual waste incineration, the major electricity suppliers get in significant difficulties.

In the conclusion of the tour I was really impressed. That what’s put from the residual waste in private families in addition to the industrial waste is, after all, still god to supply 100,000 families with electricity in Cologne.

And in precisely the same time it’s scary, what incredible tonnes of waste we all produce. Blue and orange ton even come in addition to that.

Consumer society offers garbage

Waste incineration plants producing electricity for us and making us less dependent on fossil fuels, are the logical consequence of our society. But incinerators aren’t built primarily to generate electricity. But to become master of the hills of waste we produce continuously as a society. Luckily, with modern incinerators, a method was shown to constitute the stinking problem a fresh thing. But the cause, our consumption, is the real problem.

for those operators of the incineration plant, so it is essential that enough waste is delivered. Garbage is their merchandise. The more they could get, the better for your machine’s capacity. For then it’ll work cost-effectively, which in turn has a positive influence on the urban garbage fees. Since waste is added from adjoining areas.

But the consumer society provides those masses of garbage. Goods are produced in large quantities, bought, used or consumed and eventually discarded. The 2aste incineration plant gets food — in 2013 there were 707,000 tons in Cologne. And provides us even with electricity (282 million kWh in 2013 in Cologne). Truly an ideal cycle, so one might think. If not with this”but” are. Since our conventional consumption goes at the expense of other countries, to the detriment of the environment, fair working conditions; Resources are wasted, the transportation around the globe has influence on the climate, manufacturing facilities in the Far East poison the local surroundings and so forth.

Well, I reside in Cologne, a huge town, where surely only a small proportion of residents consider trash, disposal or perhaps waste reduction and also practice this. That may be a negative perspective, but I think that it is realistic. The average normal citizen doesn’t necessarily ask the question what’s actually occurring to that which he throws away in the course of a year. My second wish is to pay a visit to a recycling plant for plastics.

Waste incineration and waste seperation versus waste prevention

Waste separation was yesterday. The latest approach is waste prevention. In its most distinct version it is named Zero Waste. No waste. So far there are just a few leaders, whose videos and reports I read and watch with interest. And in precisely the same time I wonder how to implement this at a typical big-city life. It starts with the truth that — even if you use a togo box, which is compostable, then you do not know where to dispose of it along the way. Would everybody do this?

that I think it’s good if it is possible, to be master of the situation (immense amounts of waste) through a nicely organized disposal system and outside actually to convert this residual waste to a large extent into energy, ie heating and electricity. There is at least a massive improvement as against the stinking landfill out of earlier, in which everything has been thrown into a heap and then covered with the cloak of silence. The following step should be, to decrease the amount of waste in total. And this won’t be possible just from the civic society. Here politics and economy are asked to produce the right framework and to set the operational execution in movement. In a small group, we had been led by the spokesman of the AVG through the respective segments of the garbage incineration plant and the procedures were explained in detail. Originally skeptical, because in previous years there has been so much negative about this facility (excessive construction costs, lack of capacity), the disposition among the participants changed slowly into fascination.

To explain: It is Pretty Much waste. Not about recycle materials like paper, plastics, recycled glass or compostable organic waste.

Truth and cleanliness

What I discovered during the excursion: In the plant, each measure is carefully considered, it is worked with great precision. And even if this sounds paradoxical: it is squeaky clean! Just in the hall where different wastes are mixed onto conveyor belts, there is the typical smell of crap, but also not as bad as originally anticipated.

Amazing for me personally: I did not know that by using residual waste a really large amount of electricity is generated. And reassuring for me personally: tools are obtained even from the previous fall: alloy, material for road construction, plaster at good quality. The proportion of what’s factually left and actually not recycled, seems negligible to low.

From waste to electricity — the process in detail

The remaining waste incinerator from Cologne was set into operation in 1998 and is among the most modern and best facilities in the world. It processes what has landed from the residual waste after the individual selection of private families, in addition to the remains of sorting out of mixed building and industrial waste.

Much of the waste is sent by rail. The railroad containers are filled in two waste transfer stations in the city of Cologne and together have a capacity of about 250,000 tons each year. The rest of the waste is brought by truck.

Waste separation was yesterday. The latest approach is waste prevention. In its most distinct version it is called Zero Waste. No waste. So far there are only a few pioneers, whose reports and videos I read and watch with interest. And at the same time I wonder how to implement this in a normal big-city life. It starts with the fact that – even if you use a togo box, which is compostable, then you do not know where to dispose of it along the way. So take it home and put it in the compost bin? Would everybody do that?

I think it’s great if it is possible, to be master of the situation (immense amounts of waste) through a well organized disposal system and beyond even to convert this residual waste to a large extent into energy, ie electricity and heating. There is at least a huge improvement as against the stinking landfill from earlier, in which everything was thrown into a pile and then covered with the cloak of silence. The next step must be, to reduce the amount of waste in total. And this will not be possible just by the civil society. Here politics and economy are asked to create the right framework and to set the practical implementation in motion.