Over the next few months I’m working part-time as a process engineer on a different kind of project. We’re building a plant that will turn unsorted municipal waste into energy. The energy produced will not only power the plant but also feed the grid. The process, which involves mechanical sorting of recyclables, bacterial digestion of organic matter, and incineration, is now profitable in Europe due to advances in technology and steep taxes on landfills. The plant will process 200,000 tonnes of waste per year.
The waste-to-energy process ultimately helps the oceans in major ways, which of course makes me happy. It will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas methane released into the atmosphere from landfills (in the U.S. landfills are the largest anthropogenic emitters of methane) and will reduce CO2 emission. Both of these are major drivers of climate change and ocean acidification.
Special thanks to the commissioning team at Interserve for welcoming me on the project. I’m learning a lot and enjoying the experience working on a large-scale engineering project for industry.
More information on the project here.
Grace Young (B.S., MIT, Ph.D, Oxford) is an ocean engineer, aquanaut, and explorer currently working at X. She lived underwater as a scientist and engineer on Fabian Cousteau’s Mission 31, and is a National Geographic Explorer.