Waste to Energy (WTE), is a term that is used to describe various technologies that convert non-recyclable waste into usable forms of energy including heat, fuels and electricity. WTE can occur through a number of processes such as incineration, gasification, pyrolysis, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas recovery
The term WTE is commonly used in specific reference to incineration which burns completely combusted waste at ultra-high temperatures allowing for energy recovery. Modern incineration facilities use pollution control equipment to prevent the release of emissions into the environment. Currently incineration is the only WTE technology that is economically viable and operationally feasible at commercial scale.
Another example of WTE is anaerobic digestion (AD), an effective technology that biologically converts organic material into compost as well as biogas for energy. AD systems have large potential and can range from low to high tech, therefore they can service communities of all income levels. Another process, called pyrolysis, can thermo-chemically convert waste products into clean liquid fuels.
Finally, landfill gas recovery refers to the process of capturing the gases emitted from municipal landfills and converting it for energy. The most common form of collection occurs by drilling horizontal or vertical wells into the landfill and uses blowers and vacuums to collect the gas for treatment.