In DepthClean Energy

Enzymes offer waste-to-energy solution

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Science  31 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6332, pp. 1360-1361
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6332.1360

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Summary

A cutting-edge waste-to-energy plant is taking shape in the industrial heartland of the United Kingdom. When the £60 million facility opens in May, it will be the world’s first commercial-scale plant to use enzymes and microbes to turn unsorted garbage into power-producing fuel. A smorgasbord of household trash and a cocktail of enzymes are fed into long steel cylinders. The enzymes break down organic matter into a soupy bioliquid; microbes then feed on this to produce methane, which can be burned to generate power. Remaining solids are recycled or taken to an incinerator to generate more power. Although the process is greener than landfills, and holds some advantages over incinerators, some environmentalists worry it will provide a disincentive to recycle at home.

  • * in Northwich, U.K.