Channeling Landfill Waste into Clean Energy Solutions


Over four billion tons of municipal, industrial, construction, and agricultural solid waste are produced each year around the world, with roughly 25 percent generated in the US. For the most part, solid waste is condemned to landfills, which in many developing countries are nothing more than a hole in the ground at the edge of town. Given the nature of landfills and the materials that go into them, they can be the source of significant environmental degradation and blight.

Once waste is in the ground, it breaks down to form methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), two greenhouse gases (GHG) that have been linked to global warming. While solid waste generation is a global problem, it also represents a local opportunity as a source of renewable energy. Industry data suggests that in the United States alone, over 50,000 megawatts of latent energy potential is buried in landfills.

Bill Davis founded Ze-gen in 2004 to develop a technological solution to reduce the landfilling of materials by converting waste to a clean form of energy. Based in Boston, Zegen is a venture-backed renewable energy company developing technology that employs high-temperature liquid metal to convert waste materials into synthesis gas (syngas) through a thermo-chemical process. This high temperature process precludes formation of tars and oils that lower the quality of the syngas, and favors the production of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2).

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