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To get waste to work

The scientific approach 08.10.2017 at 16:28

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Turn waste into a valuable resource can make a highly efficient city

20 Dec 2015 in the Chinese city of Shenzhen has fallen off a mountain of urban waste, killing 69 people and destroying dozens of buildings. The disaster was the physical manifestation of the fact that they are able to do mountains of waste, are depicted in WALL‑E, filmed in 2008,which expresses terrible but the real idea is that debris can accumulate uncontrollably, forcing us out of our habitat. Effective way of transforming existing cities into eco-safe and designed for the long term, the city is preserving, not destroying our Earth, is to decrease all streams of waste and using what remains as a resource. Waste from one process should become raw materials for others.

In the world, more and more people live in cities, which puts them in first place in solving the global problem of resources. Mayors have to assume greater responsibility for the developing solutions, especially in those countries where the public is not eager to solve environmental problems. The important role of cities is recognized and adopted in 2015 in Paris international agreements on climate change. Then for talks on joint efforts in reducing emissions in the French capital gathered more than 1 thousand mayors. Change in building standards and investment in energy efficiency — two of the initial stage where they can begin to act much faster than the national government.

Cities it makes sense to become more active. Some of them in new York, Mexico city, Beijing is home to more people than in other States. Here all the problems control our lives collide in the most concentrated form. Cities can serve as living laboratories to improve the quality of life without using the Earth's resources, without pollution of air and water and without harm to the health of people in the process. City throw away carbon dioxide and waste energy, food, water, space and time. The reduction of this waste stream and review it as a resource, not a cost, allows solving many problems, creating a promising future for billions of people.

Machine digging up the rubble in Shenzhen, formed as a result of the collapse of the mountain of debris that buried dozens of buildings

Waste as output

the Story contains many lessons on waste. London physician John snow (John Snow) came to the conclusion that the cause of the terrible outbreaks of cholera in London in 1848 and 1854 there was contamination of the public wells sewage. The obvious solution was the creation of a sewer system, but political leaders rejected the conclusions of the snow, because his ideas did not conform to the dominant ideology, and the measures deemed too costly. In this way are rejected and the findings of modern climate scientists who say that the waste is slowly killing us and that the solution to this problem will require large investments in new infrastructure. Later, when the new leaders took massive public work visciano almost 2 thousand km of sewer pipes in densely built three million city, deciding this issue of cholera, snow was declared a hero (perhaps the same fate awaits modern scientists). This work has also led to the creation of a pleasant embankments of the Thames, which today is one of the key elements of the urban environment of London, a place to walk many people.

today, However one waste management is not enough. After reducing the number necessary to complete the circuit and use the remainder again. So, the strategy is to first reduce waste and then to get them to work.

This new thinking starts with the redefinition of pollution. Well-known engineer of the municipal water supply system in Austin, Texas, Bhattarai Raj (Raj Bhattarai) gave me a new definition of pollution is resources out of place. Of malicious matter if they are in the wrong place: in our body, in the air or in the water. But in the right place they are useful. For example, solid waste can not be sent to a landfill, and even paying them out of our taxes, and to burn to generate electricity. And from sewage of the cities to extract gold and other precious metals in the millions of dollars a year and use them in local industries.

This idea fits well with the broader concept of so-called circular economy or closed loop economy, where the activities of the company and the mutually beneficial nourish each other. Put simply, waste is what you get if you do not show enough imagination.

For heating greenhouses, producing tomatoes, Vancouver's burning methane collected from landfills

Less is more

One of the more obvious places from which to begin actions to reduce the amount of waste is water. Due to leakage from it is usually lost 10-40% of water. And because the cleaning of this water and supply it to the system power consumption, the leaks and energy loss. Needless consumption of energy is incredibly wasteful. More than half of the city consumed electricity lost as heat from smokestacks, exhaust pipes of cars, from the back side heaters and air conditioners, and household appliances.

to increase the efficiency of all of this technology reduces the amount of energy that we have to develop, distribute and clean. Another waste stream — garbage. In the United States per capita daily an almost 2 kg of garbage. Despite attempts to compost, to reuse and to burn some of this junk, a little more than half of its landfilled. One of the ways to reduce garbage is to reduce the volume of packaging, as it gives other benefits. In particular, large retail chains like Walmart found that with a decrease in the volume of the package decreases and the number of trucks required to deliver goods, as well as becoming more space on the shelves for of the invoice.

Food waste by themselves are extremely disappointing. Despite the hunger and shortage of food in many places of the world, Americans throw away 25 to 50% suitable for food. The production of food crops, production and food storage and cooking, require large areas, cost of energy and quantities of water, so food waste have a significant impact on the environment. Initiatives such as the campaign "I value food" in the US and similar in the UK — this is a beginning to solving this vital problem.

case study: Kalundborg

In the Danish industrial Park Kalundborg symbiosis of the company and coordinate the flows of energy, water and other materials, which they exchange among themselves. Waste or by-products some sold to others as raw materials, generating income and reducing the total number of discharges, the cost of materials and the harm caused to the environment. In the process of this exchange for the production of enzymes, insulin, biogas, drywall and other products includes about 30 substances from wastewater and waste heat to ethanol.

to Get waste to work

After the reduction of the waste stream of the city should use urban waste from one process as a resource for another. While this is rarely done, but attractive projects are multiplying. The modern system of turning waste into energy, for example in Zurich, provide clean burning of waste, and some, particularly in palm beach, Florida, recovered more than 95% of metals from the ash resulting from the incineration of garbage. Some rural settlements, e.g. Jühnde in Germany is produced from manure, a sufficient amount of biogas to heat or provide electricity to a large proportion of their houses. My research group from the University of Texas in Austin found that a cement factory in new BRAUNFELS, Texas, as fuel instead of coal to use non-recyclable plastics, which eliminates carbon emissions and reduces the impact of coal mining on nature.

Some value may be even the garbage taken to landfills. The city can collect the methane emitted from the decomposition of waste, instead of burning it or just let it go into the atmosphere, where it traps far more heat than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. And burning the collected methane to produce electricity. At the Vancouver landfill methane is collected and used for heating greenhouses where they grow tomatoes.However, all methane from landfills will not collect, and that inspired the authorities to give Vancouver residents a separate container for garbage and organic materials (food residues, cut in the courtyards of grass, cut tree limbs).

The government hopes that citizens will use them to their destination, and create a service of the city inspectors who must check whether unload trucks separately collected waste. Collecting the methane emitted from organic waste, the city generates solid residues that can improve soil fertility. This approach will solve several problems: saves money that would be spent on the purchase of electricity, reduces the need for landfills, eliminates unnecessary use of and damage to the land and thus increases the efficiency of agriculture.

at Approximately the same goes for Austin with wastewater sludge, passing it through anaerobic bioreactors for biogas production, which the city then sells or uses on site to produce heat. And solid residues of this process, it turns into a popular fertilizer Dillo Dirt. Selling it, the city makes money than compensates for the cost of processing wastewater.

Kalundborg: the pipes through which the exhaust steam from the power plant DONG Energy is transferred to the companies for use in production purposes

Although the population is growing popularity of composting, which is worthy of promotion, wrong conduct leads to an increase in methane emissions. Residents of Austin are better to grind up leftover food and flush them down the drain to urban wastewater treatment plants of industrial scale composting performed more efficiently.

Great opportunities lie in waste heat. Use them hard, because a high enough temperature is difficult to convert into electricity. NASA has developed thermoelectric generators to perform this work for the spacecraft, but the technology Agency of the road and ineffective. However, new materials that convert heat into electricity with higher efficiency. You can start with hot wastewater flowing into the drains when we wash the dishes, wash or take a shower. In Sandvika, a suburb of the capital of Norway, Oslo, there are large heat exchangers taking heat from sewer pipes to heat the dozens of nearby buildings and clean roads and sidewalks of ice. And in summer, the inclusion of heat pumps allows you to use some of this heat to cool the same buildings. Authorities of Vancouver this idea so much that they borrowed it in order to use waste water for heating hundreds of homes and the Olympic village. Further development of this idea was Kalundborg symbiosis in Denmark is an outstanding example of "thinking with a closed cycle". This industrial Park is located seven companies and municipal organizations involved in energy supply, water supply, treatment and processing of solid waste.

they are All linked in such a way that waste some of them serve as resources for others. Pipes, wires and ducts are moving in different directions steam, gas, water, electricity and solid waste, while also improving overall efficiency and reducing the final volume of waste, including CO2 emissions. In particular, the heat from the refinery is piped to the powerhouse where it is used for purification and stabilization of fly ash from the combustion of coal. And the waste steam from the refinery are company Novo Nordisk, which uses the heat of this steam to generate almost half of the total produced in the world of insulin using bacteria and yeast. The entire Park functions as a single living organism — and it has demonstrated growth without increasing or even reducing emissions.

data-driven Decisions

Can you reproduce the model Kalundborg symbiosis on a larger scale in cities around the world? It is possible, but only under the condition that these cities will be "smart". Industrial Park flexible because the number of tenants and decision-makers, it is small, whereas in many individuals and organizations who daily make decisions in the areas of energy, water and waste management. Their Union requires a cultural shift towards cooperation, encourage the development of "smart" technologies. A smart city will rely on the widespread collection of data and cheap processing combined with machine learning and artificial intelligence. This combination will allow you to identify underperforming units and streamline operations, reducing the amount of waste and costs and thus automatically controlling the operation of all equipment.

fortunately, the creation of "smart" cities — attractive goal of designers who want to adapt to the growing density of the population, without compromising the quality of his life. For example, in India, where the problems of the population and its health are very sharp, Prime Minister Narendra modi (Narendra Modi) has announced plans to turn the 100 municipalities of small and medium-size smart cities as a possible solution.

the name "smart" sounds like an accusation of most cities unreasonable. But this charge is appropriate because it seems that municipalities are overburdened with waste that here. The national science Foundation of the United States just launched a major research program ""Smart" and interconnected community" (Smart & Connected Communities) to help cities better use the data. By the way, the name reminds of that one "crazy" enough, you will need a relationship between systems and people.

Work "smart" cities is very much dependent on large amounts of data collected by an extensive network of sensors and advanced algorithms to quickly assess situations, draw conclusions and decisions based on these data. Interconnected networks transmit analyses of the data all equipment working in the city. We must start with the "smart" measuring devices which must strictly around the clock to track the costs of electricity, natural gas and water, as well as the work of domestic and industrial electronic equipment. Need equipment to monitor traffic in real-time monitors of air pollution and leak detectors. In Austin, the consortium Pekan Street collects data from hundreds of houses to evaluate how access to these flows of information can help consumers change their behaviour so to reduce consumption and save costs. Some cities, such as Phoenix, and military bases such as Fort Carson in Colorado, has promised to become self-sufficient users of electricity and water and produce waste. To achieve these ambitious objectives will require a huge number of related data.

the Improvement of urban transport systems could become citizens for the first hint of the benefits of "smart" city, reducing the time on the trip. To reduce the impact of transport on the nature of the required use of cleaner fuels, improving the efficiency of vehicles, increase their completion, reducing the range and duration of journeys and reducing their number. If people live closer to their jobs, they will be able to get to work by foot, Bicycle or public transport. Studies show that the creation of dedicated Bicycle lanes have greatly increased the number of bike users, and because bicycles take up much less space than cars, they can reduce congestion and traffic jams.

to Save some space in the city and spending time at the Park can also cars without drivers. Use constantly in the work of Autonomous car sharing is private Parking at the house or place of work, the ability to greatly reduce the need for Parking spaces, freeing a large space, and thereby reducing congestion. Experts from the Center for transportation research the University of Texas at Austin using complex models found that the introduction of car sharing would reduce the need the city the number of cars and reduce emissions, despite the fact that the total mileage of cars will increase as they will be on the move constantly. And their passengers, not being engaged in management, will be able to relax, to read email, make phone calls or to do other things. All these will give economic benefits and will enable people to carry out jobs in less time and earlier to get home for dinner.

the Establishment of a smarter infrastructure undoubtedly provides the key to solving such fundamental problems as leaking of water pipes. Placement of water meters throughout the water supply network will allow you to quickly identify leaks and determine their locations. Researchers from Birmingham in England have developed a system of miniature pressure sensors, which consumes very little power, perform frequent inspections to detect leaks, so that the repairmen do not need to wait until someone will report that on the road there was a fountain.

And, eventually, you see, so that we can send to repair pipes "smart" robots.

high-performance sensors will also detect and predict gas leaks before they declare themselves an accident. After all these leaks — not only useless losses, besides damaging the environment, they are also dangerous, as evidenced by falling on the front pages of Newspapers reports of explosions in cities with aging infrastructure. To predict where there may be a "smart" city that cares about reducing waste, it is difficult. As a likely candidate, I imagine the cities in the Midwest in need of an update, since its economy has been depleted dozens of years ago.

comes To mind Indianapolis, in particular because it requires the restructuring of systems of water supply and Sewerage, established 100 years ago based on bad decisions. The city is investing in its business part and is on the rise. Pittsburgh is seeking from the city, recognizable by flue tubes become world renowned for its intellectual elite, using the existing assets of energetic center, the pride of the city, the innovative leadership of mayor William Peduto (William Peduto), the importance of Carnegie — Mellon and other centers of innovation. And now the company Uber has opened a service in it of Autonomous cars. Another city priglyadevshis to advanced experiments on transformation into a "smart", is the capital of Ohio is Columbus with a major University. The U.S. Department of transportation recently gave him a grant of $40 million to upgrade its approach to mobility.

the Way to achieve the goal

the Transformation wasteful cities in those where the amount of waste is reduced and what remains is recycled for reuse, will not be easy. Federal R & d investments should be combined with the right policies at all levels of government. Unfortunately, the R & d funding has recently been reduced, and if administration trump it may even decrease.

in addition, the investment in R & d should be socially sophisticated. Studies show that in smart cities these investments are made more on the technology than on the needs of the residents. If the wrong policy of the benefits of "smart" city can go on to benefit most those who are and has access to the Internet and advanced technologies that will only increase the technological gap in addition to other socioeconomic gaps. Finally, the municipality should help the citizens to become more advanced, as each person decides for resources whenever he buys something or even just clicks switch.

Access to education data and will be the widest. And the connection residents will require the cooperation and interaction: parks, playgrounds, public areas, schools, religious and civic organizations were important elements in prosperous cities, the structure of which was formed a hundred years ago. And the more "smart" will become the city, the more we need the elements of the old world to stay together.

Translation: I. E. Satsevich

Author: Michael Webber (Michael E. Webber) — Deputy Director of the Energy Institute, one of the Directors of the company Clean Energy Incubator and Professor of energy University of Texas at Austin. His Poslednyaya — "Thirst for power: energy, water and human survival" (Thirst for Power: Energy, Water, and Human Survival, 2016).

Source: the Magazine "world of science" for September 2017

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