Reusing waste is no new idea. The whole green revolution is about recycling most if not all waste produced by cities. In fact, waste-to-energy plants are already being constructed in certain parts of the world like Denmark and Sweden.
Lockheed Martin has now installed a bioenergy plant at their Owego, New York aircraft factory to power manufacturing with human waste. You can see the factory below in a Lockheed Martin promotional video.
The company partnered with Concord Blue, creating a plant that can provide 250 kilowatts of power. It does this by turning waste into gas and using that for power.
First, waste material is collected and recyclables like metal and plastics are removed. The facility then dries out and heats up biowaste.
At a certain temperature, the solid waste becomes a gas, which then transforms into synthetic gas. This is then used to fuel a combustion engine that produces electricity, or can help produce hydrogen and biofuels.
The current facility uses discarded wood chips from nearby lumber mills, but Lockheed wants to utilize municipal solid waste, industrial waste, and more.
It is also building a bigger facility in Herten, Germany capable of producing 5 megawatts of power. This facility will convert 50,000 tons of feedstock to power 5,000 homes and businesses.
If incinerating waste doesn’t sound eco-friendly to you, consider how the whole process uses no oxygen or flames. This means no harmful by-products or greenhouse gasses are emitted.
In fact, the biowaste plant is able to make the whole Owego facility carbon neutral and is estimated to help reduce carbon emissions by 9,000 metric tons per year.
The method they use could also be scalable to smaller “modules,” meaning a smaller unit like a hospital complex or a forward operating base could power itself, reducing the load on energy grids powered by fossil fuels.