Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Waste could help fuel low carbon energy and transport

Date:
November 11, 2013
Source:
KTH The Royal Institute of Technology
Summary:
In a time when society – and nature itself – are threatened by climate change, it seems fair to ask: Does recycling still matter? Two Swedish scientists say it does.

Gφran Lindbergh demonstrates a fuel cell test vehicle to U.S. President Barack Obama at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, during the Presidents's first state visit to Sweden in September. At right is Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Credit: Peter Larsson

In a time when society – and nature itself – are threatened by climate change, it seems fair to ask: Does recycling still matter? Two Swedish scientists say it does.

Seemingly insurmountable threats like global warming and toxic emissions make an idea like recycling sound almost quaint – a throwback to the era of disco music and mood rings.

But researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm say that recycling could play an important role in sustainable energy systems and transportation.

Gφran Finnveden, who is Professor in Environmental Strategic Analysis and Vice President for Sustainable Development at Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology, says that while household waste recycling is important, it takes care of a relatively small amount of the total waste that developed economies generate.

“We could do much more,” Finnveden says.

A wide range of other types of wastes account for the remainder of society’s refuse (in Sweden, non-household wastes contribute 88 percent of the country’s total). And it’s also in that “waste stream” that Finnveden and others see a huge, untapped source of energy.

Waste-to-energy examples abound. In Sweden, a substantial percentage of the country’s district heating comes from burning non-recyclable trash. “In general, recycling saves more energy than incineration of waste,” Finnveden says. “But if recycling is not feasible, waste-to energy processes can have significant advantages”.

At KTH, methods for harvesting hydrogen fuel from waste are also being developed.

When U.S. President Barack Obama made his first state visit to Sweden recently, KTH researchers showed him a system developed at the university which converts olive oil production waste to hydrogen gas. The gas can then be converted to energy through fuel cells.

"You can use the leftovers from olive oil production to make biogas and electricity," says Gφran Lindbergh, Professor and Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Technology at KTH.

Fuel cell-powered cars, based on the test vehicle Lindbergh showed to Obama during the President's visit to KTH, can also get their hydrogen gas from waste streams. The prototype that Obama examined can travel from Stockholm to Gothenburg and back again – about 1,000 kilometres – on less than a litre of petrol.

“There are really possibilities for technology to make a difference,” Lindbergh says. But technology alone cannot solve global energy and carbon emissions problems. Both scientists agree that policy makers need the support of the public to take real steps toward significant carbon reduction.

Finnveden says a global carbon tax could support transformative change with relatively little disruption. Sweden's carbon tax, which was implemented in 1991, has changed how the country's homes are heated "and people hardly notice this because we still have a warm house and it's just heated in another way", he says.

"You could introduce a global carbon dioxide tax that would change the energy systems and the transportation systems, and we probably wouldn’t even notice it very much," he says.

"The type of fuels must change, and we have to reverse the trend of increasing traffic volumes; but that doesn’t mean the way we transport ourselves has to change drastically,” he says. “Drastic changes are needed but that doesn’t mean there has to be drastic changes in our lifestyles.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by KTH The Royal Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

KTH The Royal Institute of Technology. "Waste could help fuel low carbon energy and transport." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111091357.htm>.
KTH The Royal Institute of Technology. (2013, November 11). Waste could help fuel low carbon energy and transport. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111091357.htm
KTH The Royal Institute of Technology. "Waste could help fuel low carbon energy and transport." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111091357.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins