BU Initiative on Cities to Fund Design of Waste-to-Energy Conversions for Municipal Solid Waste Mitigation

in MSE Spotlight Faculty, MSE Spotlight Research, NEWS

by Jasmine Carter

Of the 164 million tons of post-recycled MSW landfilled in the US each year, 80% is carbonaceous; only 25% of this is used in waste-to-energy production (J. Goldfarb)
Of the 164 million tons of post-recycled MSW landfilled in the US each year, 80% is carbonaceous; only 25% of this is used in waste-to-energy production (J. Goldfarb)

Waste management has always been a concern for policy makers. Years ago their main concern was how to move and dispose solid waste. Recycling efforts have reduced the amount of paper, glass, and metal found in waste, and what remains is a large amount of organic material that is landfilled. In the coming years, new regulations in several states will eliminate landfilling of organic waste, which makes MSW management critical from an environmental and policy statement. It will have a particular impact on more urban areas where waste is generated very rapidly.

Boston University’s Initiative on Cities will be providing funding for Professor Jillian Goldfarb’s (ME, MSE) lab to tackle the problem how to design an integrated process to convert Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) into energy and activated carbons for landfill leachate treatment, and do so in a way that is environmentally compliant and cost effective.

The impacts of this research have the potential to be massive. There is over 100 million tons of post-recycled Municipal Solid Waste currently in landfills, which could be converted into energy. Goldfarb’s work will enable her lab to determine not only the scientific potential for full-scale implementation, but also the economic and policy impacts.