Energy from wastes and biomasses: opportunities and state of the art

The continuing increase in the price of fossil fuels, preoccupation concerning the impact on the global climate of emission of greenhouse gases deriving from productive activities, together with the constant economic growth and increased energy demand from developing countries, all imply the need to obtain energy from alternative sources other than oil, natural gas and coal. Wastes and biomasses are among the resources capable of contributing towards a reduction in the demand for energy from fossil fuels. All productive processes and all communities, be they large or small, generate a flow of waste materials constituting and containing a possible source of exploitable energy. Likewise, residual biomasses (wood, farming waste, residues from the food industry, etc) and purpose-manufactured biomasses may provide a convenient source of energy. Currently, several technologies at varying stages of development, based on both thermal processes and biological procedures, can be applied to obtain energy from wastes and biomasses.

Man has used materials and energy to improve his condition since very early times. From firewood to fossil fuels, technical applications have led to the extensive and diversified exploitation of energy sources, in turn producing the marked cultural and technological evolution featured in society today. Moreover, the belief that the planet was neither an endless source of materials and energy nor a habitat for man to exploit and mould as he pleased in order to improve his condition, became object of criticism immediately following the Second World War. Today people are well aware that man is part of a complex world in which the maintaining of well balanced environmental conditions is a fundamental issue. The technological and industrial development of several geographic areas however does not appear to be geared towards ensuring the maintaining of such an equilibrium. Indeed, the current energy demand is largely met by the availability of fossil fuels and nuclear energy and, to a lesser degree, by the so-called alternative energy sources provided by productive processes and technologies capable of exploiting renewable resources present in nature. Renewable forms of energy featuring a source and a perennial or cyclic trend, as opposed to fossil fuels which are constant and endless, include wind power, geothermal energy, solar power, hydroelectric power and energy from biomasses. Wastes may also be included among the renewable forms of energy.

Copyright: © IWWG International Waste Working Group
Quelle: Venice Conference 2006 (November 2006)
Seiten: 14
Preis: € 14,00
Autor: L. Alibardi
Raffaello Cossu

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