Gasification of waste, an effective solution for southern countries

Written by :
Charlotte Salaün
Published on :

Faced with the costly problem of waste disposal and the need for more energy, a growing number of countries are turning to gasification, a proven and environmentally friendly way of converting energy from household solid waste (MSW) into useful products such as electricity, fertilisers, transport fuels etc.

Gasification converts MSW into a usable syngas, also called SYNGAS. Gasification is a unique process that converts carbon-based material, such as MSW or biomass, into other forms of energy without actually burning it. Instead, gasification converts solid and liquid waste into a gas through a chemical reaction.

This reaction combines these carbon-based materials (called feedstocks) with small amounts of air or oxygen (but not enough to burn the materials), breaking them down into simple molecules, mainly a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. 

With gasification technology, one tonne of MSW can be used to produce up to 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, a much more efficient and cleaner way to use this energy source.

A process with multiple applications

The main product of the gasification process is syngas, which contains carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane. The other main product produced by gasification is a solid residue of non-combustible materials (ash) which contains a relatively low level of carbon.

Syngas can be used in a number of ways, including

  • - It can be burned in a boiler to generate steam for electricity generation;

  • - It can be used as fuel in a dedicated petrol engine;

  • - After reforming, it can be used in a gas turbine;

  • - It can also be used as a chemical feedstock.

A green alternative to incineration

Gasification has been used worldwide on a commercial scale for several decades by the chemical, refining, fertiliser and electric power industries. 

DSM's gasification plants are relatively small, flexible for different inputs and modular development. 

In addition, the amount of electricity produced per tonne of waste by the gasification process is greater than with incineration.

The growing popularity of gasification of municipal waste has been driven by increasing dissatisfaction with traditional means of MSW treatment and recovery, a growing interest in environmental protection and a rather unfavourable public perception of the performance of conventional incinerators.

gasification I energy I electricity

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