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Turning Waste to Power; A Model We Can Borrow
By Ogbeide Ifaluyi-Isibor
The volume of waste generated in any city is often a reflection of the intensity of human activities in that city and this grows as the increase in rural-Urban migration increases for obvious reasons,if the waste so generate is not properly handled/managed,it constitutes diverse health hazards on the environment and ofcourse the people. Nigeria generates well over 20 million tonnes of waste yearly, and over 80% of this waste are disposed of in dump sites across the nation.Lets look at organic wastes comprising decomposable materials like food, plant/animal remains, paper, human waste or sewage, etc. Imagine If plastics and other non-biodegradable materials are separated and broken down into many useful products. Imagine taking advantage of fuel cell technology which breaks down organic wastes into water, fertilizers, and electricity. Fuel cell is a smart piece of technology that converts sewage/organic wastes to electricity. It is a simple plant composing of anaerobic digester and fuel cells. The bacteria in the digester feed on the wastes to produce methane. Instead of the methane burnt in the traditional gas fuel plant, it feeds the fuel cell which produces water, heat and electricity. The heat is recycled into the digester, providing the bacteria the hot atmosphere it needs to eat up more of the sewage.The power generated from a fuel cell can power Americans generate about 250 million tons of trash per year – that's more than four pounds per person each day. Recycling helps, but modern waste-to-energy technologies are being developed that could turn trash into renewable electricity or fuel for vehicles. In 2005, a major organic waste treatment plant was built in Singapore by waste remediation company IUT. This plant specializes in converting food and other organic waste from hotels, kitchens and food factories into clean energy and compost. It utilizes bio-methanization process where bacteria break down food waste into compost and methane gas. The gas is captured and used to fuel large gas engines to generate electricity. It is the first in Singapore and the largest of its kind in Asia. The plant has a capacity of processing up to 800 tons of organic waste per day and is able to generate enough electricity for its own operation and over 10,000 other industrial facilities. In Germany,the Germans are proving that ones countries trash is another countries treasure as Germany even imports garbage from neighboring countries to meet her demand as Germany is millions of garbage short yearly.The waste to power model provides power for most the Scandinavia nations and for most of the developed countries and we can start to diversify our power source in developing countries by borrowing a workable model We can borrow the Singaporean or German model in Edo State for instance,we generate over a million tonnes of waste yearly and have created several dump sites across the state to house this waste.I think we can begin to adopt a paradigm shift and discuss with successful waste mangers abroad and borrow the waste to management model adopted in those cities. Imagine if we assign waste collectors from hotels,markets and homes and have these waste channelled to a waste collection point where these wastes are sorted ,reduced,reused,recycled and used to generate electricity that would produce power.this would reduce our dependence on gas and birth a revolution in power generation in Nigeria.Amazingly,these plants don't cost so much to set up as many would think,we have not made successes of gas power generation,maybe we should begin to combine different systems to achieve power sustainability in Nigeria.