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Energy Companies Explore Waste To Create Cleaner Fuels

January 31, 2009

Experts say if projects to produce ethanol from commercial waste are increased, what we throw away could soon be used to power our cars.

The environmental and financial benefits of putting waste to good use are currently being explored in order to develop technology to produce bioethanol.

Pilot tests to produce bioethanol from the pulp-based waste created by the paper industry are already underway from magazine paper company UPM Kymmene and renewable fuel supplier Lassila & Tikanoja.

Lassi Heitanen, senior expert at Lassila & Tikanoja, told Reuters they will start discussions with the European Union over investment support in February and hope to make a decision on a full-scale plant by the end of the year.

Finnish energy company St1 Oy’s biofuel division hopes to produce 70 million liters a year of bioethanol by the end of 2011, using waste processing units.

These companies believe industrial and household waste isn’t being fully utilized considering it is normally burned or disposed of in a landfill. Methane created by decaying waste can generate even more harmful effects on the environment than carbon dioxide, experts say.

Such waste could be used to produce a cleaner type of fuel that could aid the EU’s target of having 10 percent of the “bloc’ transport fuel coming from renewable sources by 2020.”

Ethanol emits less carbon dioxide than gasoline because it burns with a greater efficiency. The United States and Brazil lead the rest of the world in 2007 by producing nearly 52 billion liters of ethanol.

The British company New Earth Energy has partnered with waste management group Biossence to generate renewable energy in the northwest of the UK.

The company’s goal is to use household and industrial waste as an energy source at two plants in the northwest of the country within the next year.

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