UCLA study shows converting waste to biofuels could be untapped resource

quarta-feira, agosto 07, 2019

A new study from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) identifies the potential power of all manner of waste, with its ability to be a renewable resource of power that simultaneously cuts carbon emissions.

While it is not the first time waste has been looked to as a potential source of bioenergy, the study goes more in depth into how the practice could benefit the nation on a larger scale. The report from UCLA industrial ecologist and energy economist Deepak Rajagopal and urban planning doctoral candidate Bo Liu shows that bringing existing processes to large scale use could produce enough energy annually to power both Oregon and Washington, while also cutting around 37 million cars’ worth of carbon emissions.

The report especially promotes waste use as an alternative to biofuel sources like crop-based ethanol. That biofuel has led to increased food prices and environmental damage, and Rajagopal says the life cycle analyses of four types of waste — agricultural, forestry, landfill and cow manure — show that some make for a much more sustainable alternative.

“The U.S. has tried biofuels, and they are important because we need more renewables, but we need better biofuels,” Rajagopal said.

Of 15 energy conversion technologies and 29 waste types covered by the report, the researchers found the U.S. could generate 3.1 to 3.8 exajoules of energy each year through waste resources and displace between 103 to 178 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. While no single method of bioenergy production maximizes net energy gain, renewable energy gain or climate benefits, certain ones become better for specific situations and work best without limits on application. They are suitable for fuel use, whereas other renewable energies — solar and wind — remain crucial for electric generation.

“The benefit of using waste is that we are generating waste anyway. It is a leftover resource that we have not conventionally thought about,” Liu said.

Page: Daily Energy Inside

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