Japanese Waste-to-Power Solution Demonstrated

The Japanese port city of Kobe is testing a generating facility that uses kitchen waste as fuel.

KOBE, Japan (JP) 2002-01-29 [SolarAccess.com] The Japanese Environment facility on a 2,000 m2 lot in Kobe’s Port Island, began a trial operation last September and has drawn interest from municipal governments and companies across the country, with daily tour groups. The system was developed by the Kajima contracting firm and Fuji Electric, collecting garbage from six large hotels which is fermented in a 9 m tank into biogas which consists mostly of methane. The gas is pumped into a fuel cell after toxic substances are extracted. Hydrogen removed through catalysis is used to generate electricity from the cell, according to the companies. The ministry, which built the facility with 480 million yen from its fiscal 1999 and 2000 budgets, expects the system will generate 2,400 kilowatts of power daily from six tons of kitchen waste, enough to power 240 homes. It wants to use surplus power in electric vehicles and to use excess biogas in cars. The facility will undergo a three-year trial period before the ministry will consider putting it into commercial use. The system could be an appropriate solution for Japan, which has pollution from carcinogenic dioxins emitted by waste incinerators, and faces future shortage of landfills and rising CO2 emissions, despite its 1997 Kyoto Protocol obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The facility does not burn waste using oil or other fossil fuels, it is quiet because there is no burning, and the system converts 95 percent of waste into power. Five percent of the garbage put into the facility becomes waste but, to promote its use, costs must be reduced and there must be a steady supply of kitchen refuse.
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