You are here:

Waste incineration is an integral part of many countries’ waste management strategies. It offers many advantages, like reducing waste volume by as much as 90% and generating electricity. However, there is a catch: incineration emits carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which are significant contributors to climate change.

Fortunately, decarbonisation technology, like carbon capture and storage (CCS), offers a solution that would allow countries to continue benefiting from waste incineration while eliminating most of the CO2 emissions. 

The CO2 Dilemma in Waste Incineration

Although waste incinerators generate low-carbon electricity and can be used in heating networks, they still produce significant greenhouse gases. The carbon stored within the waste is mainly released as CO2. The total emissions depend on the composition of the waste, but typically range from one-third to one-half of a tonne of CO2 per tonne of burnt waste.

Modern flue gas cleaning systems can nearly eliminate other emissions from wide-scale processes like municipal waste (MSW) incineration. However, carbon dioxide (CO2) capture requires additional technology, which is where CCS can play a pivotal role.

Understanding CCS and Its Role in Waste Management

Carbon capture and storage is a technology designed to prevent large amounts of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. The process involves capturing CO2 produced by industrial processes like incineration, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere – typically in deep underground rock formations.

In the context of waste incineration, CCS can be a game-changer. By integrating CCS technology, the CO2 emissions can be captured directly from the exhaust gases, significantly reducing the environmental impact of waste disposal.

How the CCS Process Works

Carbon capture and storage involves three key stages:

1. Capture

Flue gas treatment begins with removing dust and particulates via an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) and reducing nitrogen oxides through selective catalytic reduction (SCR). A scrubber then uses methods like chemical absorption with monoethanolamine (MEA) solvent for carbon dioxide capture by separating it from other gases. 

These specialised filtration systems create a concentrated stream of carbon dioxide that is ready for transportation.

2. Transport

The captured carbon dioxide is piped as a dense fluid to an injection site – often offshore below the seabed or in onshore underground geological formations. While ships may be used, pipeline transportation is the most economical way to move large volumes of carbon dioxide.

3. Storage

Geological sites such as depleted oil and gas fields or deep saline aquifers below the earth’s surface can securely store millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide. The CO2 is injected under very high pressure, which keeps it in a dense, liquid state. Impermeable layers of rock act as a seal, preventing it from escaping. Various monitoring techniques are used to track the CO2 and ensure it remains securely stored indefinitely.

CCUS: An Even More Comprehensive Solution 

An extension of CCS known as carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) offers an alternative way to prevent emissions from entering the atmosphere. As the name suggests, CCUS involves capturing carbon dioxide emissions from waste incineration and then utilising them to create valuable products before securely storing any excess emissions that cannot be used. 

Potential applications for captured carbon include concrete curing, plastics production, and synthetic fuel manufacturing. While still an emerging process, CCUS has the potential to reduce emissions and costs even further and contribute to a circular carbon economy.

The Future Outlook of Carbon Capture and Storage

The future looks promising for the application of CCS to waste incineration. As countries continue implementing policies and incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, CCS will likely play an increasingly important role. 

However, there are still challenges to overcome, including:

  • High upfront capital costs for capture, transport, and storage infrastructure 
  • Identifying safe and secure underground CO2 storage sites
  • Ensuring secure permanent storage and minimising leakage risks
  • Policy and regulations needed to enable wide scale deployment 
  • Public perception concerns around pipeline transport and underground storage

Overall though, carbon capture and storage offers a viable way for waste-to-energy facilities to deeply decarbonise. Paired with increased recycling and material sustainability efforts, CCS can help enable carbon-neutral waste management systems, paving the way for a more sustainable world.

Inciner8’s Commitment to Sustainable Waste Management

At Inciner8, our commitment to incinerator innovation, environmental responsibility, and the development of sustainable waste management solutions underscores our vision for a cleaner, greener future.

Our waste-to-energy incinerators are designed to maximise energy recovery from waste, while our pollution control systems and continuous emissions monitoring ensure regulatory compliance.

Please contact our waste experts to discuss how Inciner8 can help tackle your waste challenges sustainably. We provide complete guidance, from initial consulting through comprehensive after-sales support.

Share this post: