The resources of our planet are coming to an end fast as the rate of consumption of such resources is increasing day by day. The only thing which is in no real danger of running out is the wastes which we generate. In Australia every person generates about 2,000kg or more amount of waste every year and most of that waste ends up at landfills. One way such waste products can be utilized is by making something which is depleting every day in amount as well as it is in high demand- that is fuel.
In solving such a crisis of power and fuel the world wide waste-to-fuel production industry is trying out options which are varied in nature such as discarded tyres and plastics. Their aim is to solve both the problems which are happening in our current world namely reduction of waste as well as increasing the supply of fuels.
There is already a widespread use of unconventional energy sources such as landfill wastes and agricultural wastes which are burnt to produce electricity and power. Also the methane gas which is produced from landfill sites is also used in energy production. The only disadvantages of such procedures is that these techniques are very old as well as they give little output. The main challenge which needs to be tackled is the production of some sort of liquid fuel which can easily substitute conventional fuels such as petrol and diesel.
There are three main classes of products which could be potentially converted into substantial amounts of fuels:
- The first one includes all the agricultural wastes among which the prime one is the sugar cane crop waste which is better known as bagasse. In recent times the bagasse used to generate small amounts of power by burning them but it has the potential to produce large amounts of bio fuel. Even Australian Renewable Energy Agency has been able to recognize this and has recently invested about $2.37m to set up an advanced bio fuels laboratory located near the city of Gladstone in southern Queensland. This plant is being setup with the help of fuel producing giants Southern Oil Refining.
- The second category of wastes which could be converted into fuel involves all the wastelands which are used to grow crops which can be later successfully converted to efficient biofuels. Though these crops tend to have very little use other than this but these crops are very tough and can be grown in the most inhospitable of the climate and land conditions. One such crop is agave which is used to produce tequila. These crops can grow in desert like and are found to be very energy-rich capable of producing bio-ethanol at a very high rate.
- The final categories of wastes which can be converted into fuel are the municipal as well as industrial wastes. These include all the items which fill the landfill sites and waste dumping zones. Among such items waste tyres are the one which are mainly targeted for fuel production. These tyres are recycled in a process which includes heating the munder a low-oxygen presence environment. This treatment leads to the production of a vapor which can be condensed into fuel.
Different types of bio fuels can be a very valuable substitute for existing products of the petroleum industry which are depleting day by day. These energy sources are capable to contribute to creation of a diverse array of energy supplying fuels. But the fact is that they require lots of support from government in the form of various policies and incentives which could push this industry to achieve the desired economic sustainability.