Energy from waste

Refuse-derived Fuel

In the framework of the waste-to-energy strategy we find the so-called refuse-derived fuel (RDF), obtained from non-hazardous waste and used for energy recovery in incineration plants (also called waste-to-energy plants). There is a vast range of waste used and includes that which is excluded from the recycling processes, waste from industry and distribution, sludge from water purification, hazardous industrial waste, biomass waste, etc. Such waste must be treated adequately to be able to meet the criteria, regulations and industrial specifications aimed at achieving a calorific value suitable for use as RDF. One of the least expensive and most established methods of producing RDF is mechanical biological treatment (MBT).

Renewable energy


Apple peel, fish bone, leftover pasta and a handful of corn waste. No, it is not some strange secret recipe! These are just some of the elements needed for the production of a rather specific type of fuel, biogas. Biogas is a gas, but, unlike methane extracted from the subsoil, it is produced by the decomposition of organic matter (the food part of our waste), municipal and livestock wastewater, agricultural biomass, etc. under anaerobic conditions, or in the absence of molecular oxygen (O2) or linked to other elements (for example, as in the case of nitrate NO3). The concept is similar to that of compost production, given that it is just a case of decomposing organic matter, but the products and the ways in which this is done are different.

Recover Energy


What is done with all the waste for which material recovery is not possible? According to the waste hierarchy pyramid, the preferable option is waste-to-energy, i.e. a process of thermal destruction, with recovery of energy and/or heat and with final residual production of ash that is then disposed of into a landfill to correctly close the cycle. In a waste-to-energy plant, or incinerator, the waste is burnt to exploit its calorific content (remember, for example, that plastic is produced from oil and therefore has a high calorific value), to generate heat, and to heat water to produce steam in order to obtain electricity. This energy can therefore be used to produce heat, to produce electricity or for the combined production of heat and electricity (cogeneration).

Waste regulations

Waste management and legislation

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