19 March 2007

Improving on Garbology in an Idiocracy

Remember the "Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505?" If modern garbology tycoon David Stoller has his way, there will never be a great garbage avalanche. Stoller aims to shrink-wrap garbage in a clean and efficient manner, so that the garbage can later be used to generate energy through plasmas or fuel cells.
TransLoad's equipment compresses tons of garbage into dense cylindrical bales and seals them hermetically in several layers of plastic film. The company intends to load those bales into boxcars, and ship them to its landfills.

TransLoad claims that the combination of compaction, shrink-wrapping and rail-based shipping makes the system cost-effective and eco-friendly.

....Compressing the garbage at a rate of 1,400 to 1,600 pounds per cubic yard prevents liquid from pooling in the bales, which in turn prevents putrefaction and foul odors.

Sealing the waste in impermeable plastic prevents the escape of groundwater-polluting leachate associated with standard landfill storage.

And shipping by rail eliminates the need for greenhouse gas-emitting trucks, a point the company's PR firm is quick to emphasize in the wake of Al Gore's Oscar win for An Inconvenient Truth.

....A variety of conversion technologies, including ones that use landfill gas to generate electricity, are being explored by garbologists in Europe and the United States.

Thompson notes that several bioreactors are already in operation across the country. And a company called Geoplasma plans to build a facility in St. Lucie County, Florida, that will use plasma arc technology to convert waste into gas that can be used to generate electricity.

Stoller looks forward to the day when TransLoad's bale-stuffed landfills will function as enormous trash-powered fuel cells.

Rather than a health hazard, garbage may come to represent a rich new source of "renewable" energy. One small step toward sustainability, when combined with optimal recycling technologies.

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