Turning Waste into Fuel



When the by-products of everyday life arrive at a waste-processing facility, it is likely that they could continue to serve a purpose. A new technology is being introduced for turning waste into fuel. This fuel can be a direct replacement for fossil fuels.

A Brief History of Turning Waste into Fuel

It’s no secret that waste is an ongoing problem around the world. According to a study by World Bank, cities will create around 6 million tonnes of solid waste per day in 2025! This waste is currently handled in a variety of ways. This includes incineration, landfill, recycling and energy conversion. The latter two methods are considered to be the most environmentally friendly and sustainable way of processing. They enable products that have already been used to be used once again to reduce what will be buried. This is quite important when considering the European focus on reducing waste pollution, especially plastics.

The EU’s focus on reducing plastic waste has helped to bring waste-to-energy technology to light in the past year. At the beginning of 2018, a proposal to include fuel from fossil-fuel waste materials such as discarded plastic in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive gained momentum among many member states. This led to criticism from a variety of environmental non-government organisations (NGOs). One of which, was Zero Waste Europe.

Finding a Better Alternative

However, the concept behind this idea can still be applied to waste materials that do not come from fossil fuels. One example is food waste. We should expect to see an annual total of 2.1 billion tonnes of food waste in 2030, according to the Boston Consulting Group. Applying the waste-to-fuel approach to food waste, countries and businesses could reclaim a lot of lost value. The biodegradable waste process often involves breaking it down into a biogas that can then be converted into a liquid fuel using an F-T process.

Energy consumption

Unfortunately, this process is quite energy intensive. To make it a viable option, it must be done on a large scale. This has significantly affected the uptake of investment in biofuel technology. Thanks to a development by Renovare Fuels, however, a new technology can turn biogas into a high-grade liquid fuel. This can be used as a direct replacement for fossil fuels.

The F-T process is entirely self-sufficient, with the water and gas that is produced being reused to keep the system powered. This means there is no external energy needed and the process remains carbon-neutral. This means that businesses can benefit from the waste they produce. This is quite useful for agricultural businesses and wastewater utility operators. Because the biofuel is virtually identical to traditional fossil-fuels, there is no modification process for engines. The new fuel can directly replace existing fuels or be mixed as necessary.

The Potential

Looking at the bigger picture, Renovare’s fuel can directly offset the usage of fossil fuels for petrol, diesel and jet fuels. According to a 2016 report by Defra, the UK produces 31.8 million tonnes of biodegradable waste each year. Estimations by Renovare demonstrate that its technology can displace more than 2 billion litres of fossil fuel annually.

With this breakthrough in waste-to-fuel technology, we can see a better outcome for biodegradable waste. What’s more, we are seeing a potential development for engineering. With the right technology systems, both countries and businesses can fight against global waste and offset fossil fuel efficiently and effectively.

Talk to ECTA

Being at the front line to implement these new technologies in businesses and households is essential to everyone to progress. This is why at ECTA, we offer a wide range of courses to help you get started or further your career in engineering. To find out more about the variety of courses on offer, get in touch.