Business Talk : Let's talk about: Waste-to-energy (Part 2)

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Thorsten Becker, Director Sales at Doosan Lentjes GmbH talks about what sets the company apart and future developments of the waste-to-energy sector.

What products in waste to energy do you specialize in?

Doosan Lentjes focuses on proprietary technologies for the entire hot process chain of waste-to-energy (chute-to-stack). The company offers air-cooled and water-cooled (counter-)reciprocating grate technology that enables the incineration of waste with high calorific values (RDF/SRF) as well as waste with high moisture content such as those found in Asia. In addition, the portfolio includes the roller grate, which is known for its robust design and low maintenance costs, as well as its suitability for low calorific waste in Asia. For mass incineration, the grate technology is the most suitable and flexible, as fuel properties mostly change over the usually more than 25 years of plant operation.

In the area of flue gas cleaning, Doosan Lentjes offers dry and semi-dry systems that are matched to the Doosan Lentjes boiler design. The solutions offered to ensure full compliance with the European BREF requirements (Best Available Techniques Reference).

What sets your products apart from others?

Doosan Lentjes' differentiator is its ability to offer the complete hot WtE process chain (chute-to-stack) based on its own technologies. In addition to the grate, furnace, and boiler, Doosan Lentjes also owns the flue gas cleaning technology. This gives the company the opportunity to optimise the design of the boiler and flue gas cleaning and reduce the interfaces.

In addition to the (counter-)reciprocating grate, Doosan Lentjes has built a reputation in the field of roller grates. With this, the company offers a method that is already proven in Europe to meet the requirements of the waste characteristics of the growing Asian and Indian markets.

Where do you see the biggest market growth?

In Doosan Lentjes' view, the greatest potential for market growth in thermal waste treatment is in Southeast Asia and India. Drivers for this expected development include land scarcity and capacity limits of existing landfills. In this context, waste-to-energy is the only proven large-scale method to treat non-recyclable waste or waste that has reached the end of its recyclability in a resource-oriented way. The definition of "non-recyclable" is thereby influenced by the technical and economic limits of recycling. In Europe, many plants are reaching the end of their service life, which is why an attractive market for modernisation and retrofitting is emerging there.

How do you see the role of waste to energy in a circular economy?

Waste-to-energy plays a crucial role in a sustainable circular economy. With waste-to-energy, waste that is not or no longer recyclable can be treated in a resource-oriented manner, while contaminated waste is removed from the recycling loop. By feeding this waste into thermal treatment, it is prevented from ending up in landfills or being openly incinerated, which would release uncontrolled climate-damaging methane gas or CO2 and have a negative effect on human health.

Waste-to-energy uses the energy and material potential of waste: During incineration, the energy contained in the waste is harnessed to generate electricity and heat. Since more than half of the energy contained is of biogenic origin, its use contributes to achieving renewable energy targets. The use of the energy also saves CO2 emissions that would otherwise be produced by burning climate-damaging fossil fuels. The recovered energy can be used for domestic, industrial, or commercial applications.

In addition, the bottom ash produced during incineration is increasingly being fed into recycling processes, e.g. as road construction material. Valuable metals can also be recovered from the bottom ash. Recovering valuable energy and material from non-recyclable waste makes it possible to use fewer primary raw materials and virgin fuels.

Waste-to-energy thus supports the ideas of a sustainable circular economy in a variety of ways.

How do you see the future of waste to energy?

Waste-to-energy will continue to be an important component of a sustainable waste management concept in the future to support efforts to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

By recovering valuable energy and materials from non-recyclable or contaminated waste, waste-to-energy helps to shape a circular economy. Fewer virgin fuels or resources are needed to meet energy and material requirements. The need for landfills decreases considerably due to the consistent implementation of recycling and thermal treatment of waste, resulting in less climate-damaging methane being released into the atmosphere, which is 86 times more potent than CO2 over a period of 20 years.

Integrating carbon capture systems into waste-to-energy plants can be a promising method to reduce CO2 emissions and help thermal waste disposal plants become carbon negative.