I remember doing pyrolysis experiments on my mother’s kitchen stove many years ago – it’s amazing what waste substances will produce flamable (and noxious) gases if heated in the absence of air.
As the article notes traditional waste incineration plants – those that burn waste directly generally require a good deal of preprocessing – so that the messy / mixed consumable fuel and can undergo mixing with the air and heat-exchange with the extraction medium (fluidized beds / pebbles and the like). The beauty of the pyrolysis step is that the waste only needs to be heated and physically handled in and out the the reactor – the combustion and heat-exchange happens separately in a conventional gas-fired application.
No idea about the overall efficiencies of scale with the different posibilities – suspect a good fluidized bed wins on a large industrial scale – but interesting to see that the simplicity creates practical, flexible, portable local options.
In addition, the size and complexity reduction of the system for US army use means the approach could see application outside the military.
“We’re finding more and more people in the commercial sector want to take ownership of their waste, and they want to reduce their carbon footprint, so they see energy from waste as a good way to go,”