Some experts swear by waste-to-energy, but others aren’t convinced. Video provided by Newsy Newslook
The news about the Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, which ravaged Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic as well as the other islands in the Caribbean, have drawn world attention toward energy.
Does this and similar news from places where damages inflicted by natural events sound familiar to the Guam’s residents and other islands in Micronesia? On one news program, I heard that many life-supporting devices or facilities were so desperate for gasoline or diesel, as these fuels would make or break the livelihood of people in these islands prone to natural disasters.
Due to these events, as well as the worldwide energy crisis, there is a sense of urgency for seeking new energy sources for Guam and the other islands in the region. With increasing concern over the supply of fossil fuels to generate power plants, as well as the environmental implications of burning fossil fuel, the most economical and environmentally acceptable source of fuel for our island could be methane gas.
Methane gas is the byproduct of the fermentation process of organic waste. In this regard, Ordot dump (even after it has been capped) and other waste collecting sites such as Layon landfill have the potential to become the island’s most viable renewable energy sources.
Guam, like many other populated areas, relies on petro-oil as an energy source for both vehicle fuels as well as for running gasoline generators for the island’s electricity. Wind, solar, coal and even hydrogen may be viewed as alternative energy sources, but Guam already has the most renewable energy source available: trash. Organic waste, which makes (a large) percent of the waste generated in Guam, is actually a viable renewable energy source for the island.
As a renewable fuel source, the amount of organic waste (trash) will increase as the population grows and more waste will be created on a daily basis. Organic waste digesters can convert organic waste to methane gas through the process of fermentation, which may be used for running gas-operated generators for electricity or be converted into vehicle fuel. The remaining residue is a high-quality compost material that can be used to produce high-quality organic fertilizer and marketed … as a source of revenue.
Organic waste is broken down by thermophilic aerobic (or anaerobic) digestion processes. In a thermophilic fermentation process, microorganisms decompose the waste. The bio-gas produced as a result is a mixture of methane, carbon dioxide and water vapors that can be easily segregated so the methane can be used as fuel for generators and produce electricity. This bio-gas can also be upgraded to be used as a fuel for motor vehicles.
Mine for bio-gas
Ordot dump is a major source of organic waste and by mining the site for bio-gas production, not only the site will disappear in a few years, but also it can potentially become a major source of jobs and income for Guam. The new landfill in Layon in southern Guam is another potential source of energy for Guam yet to be explored.
In short, the island will be generating a good percentage of the energy that it needs, especially in times of emergencies. Through the processes mentioned above, the government will discover a major revenue stream derived from what we are currently throwing away. In other words, Guam’s trash can become Guam’s treasure if enough thoughts and efforts are devoted to it.
Mohammad H. Golabi is a professor of soil and environmental sciences at the University of Guam’s College of Natural and Applied Science.
Source: Google News : http://www.guampdn.com/story/opinion/readers/2017/10/19/letter-guams-trash-can-become-energy-treasure/766969001/