Think about the all the trash that is accumulated in an office building or a school. Many facilities will have a number of trash dumpsters just to deal with the flow of garbage. But what if you could use that same garbage and turn it into a renewable energy to help with the heating and electricity needs of the office building or school? That is precisely what a small company called IST Energy has done.
The machine that can turn trash into energy is called the “Green Energy Machine or GEM” and is retrofitted in a shipping container that is on top of a flat bed trailer. At first glance, some might think it is an incinerator, but the GEM uses a much more eco-friendly process called gasification to turn the trash into energy (source: yahoo-cnet.com). Here’s how it works.
Besides glass, everything is usable when it comes to the GEM. This includes plastic, cardboard, food and whatever else you can think of. The trash goes into a shoot inside of the GEM and is then shredded. Then the machine removes moisture and creates small pellets similar looking to the sawdust pellets that are used in pellet stoves. The pellets are then sent to an air-fed gasifier which introduces a synthetic gas, that is mainly comprised of hydrogen and carbon monoxide and the gasification process begins. The company says that the GEM converts 95 percent of the trash that is introduced to it into energy with the other five percent being ash (source: yahoo-cnet.com). So why use the GEM?
The GEM is very compact and designed to only take up about three parking spaces which makes it ideal for office buildings and schools. The GEM can accommodate three tons of trash per day and on that number can produce enough energy to heat and light a 200,000 square foot building holding roughly 500 people. Because the trash is being re-used the buildings accumulation of trash will greatly decrease throughout the year and save a lot of space on the landfills. But more important that all these points for a business is the fact that the GEM can pay for itself inside of four years (source: yahoo-cnet.com).
Garbage disposal rates vary, but IST Energy says that a typical office park with a number of buildings can have a disposal fee of around $200,000 or more. What’s more the energy that the GEM will produce will offset the cost of energy to the building by a great margin. With the GEM costing $850,000 up front, the turnaround for getting paid back is quite rapid. IST Energy also plans to lease out the GEMs to save companies from having to come up with so much money up front (source: yahoo-cnet.com).
With the introduction of the GEM, IST Energy has made it possible to bring trash full circle. The GEM represents a way to not only “be greener” with the environment but to “save some green” for companies bottom lines in the long run. Sounds like a win, win situation.