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Published on Jul 29, 2011
Increasingly, gasification is being used to convert municipal solid waste, or MSW, into valuable forms of energy. While this type of waste has been burned, or incinerated, for decades to create heat and electricity, the gasification process represents significant advances over incineration. In order to understand the advantages of gasification when compared to incineration, it's important to understand the significant differences between the two processes:
Incineration literally means to render to ash. Incineration uses MSW as a fuel, burning it with high volumes of air to form carbon dioxide and heat. In a waste-to-energy plant that uses incineration, these hot gases are used to make steam, which is then used to generate electricity.
Gasification converts MSW to a usable synthesis gas, or syngas. It is the production of this syngas which makes gasification so different from incineration. In the gasification process, the MSW is not a fuel, but a feedstock for a high temperature chemical conversion process. In the gasifier, the MSW reacts with little or no oxygen, breaking down the feedstock into simple molecules and converting them into syngas. Instead of making just heat and electricity, as is done in a waste-to-energy plant using incineration, the syngas produced by gasification can be turned into higher valuable commercial products such as transportation fuels, chemicals, and fertilizers.
Please visit www.gasification.org for more information