When we consider “going green” and alternative energy choices, we usually think of solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal energy.
Rarely would we think of transforming human waste into a power source, but that’s exactly what South African company IST Energy thought up with their Green Energy Machine or GEM.
This shipping container-sized device dramatically cuts a building’s waste-disposal costs per year, while transforming that otherwise useless garbage into much-needed heat and electricity.
The machine is 100% clean, because it doesn’t burn the trash, but uses a process called gasification instead.
The GEM unit takes up as much as 3 parking spaces beside the building. Everything from food, waste, cardboard or plastic can be used inside the machine for conversion into energy. Things such as glass and metals should be recycled separately. The company claims the device can convert up to 95% of trash into energy, with the remaining 5% becoming ash.
With just three tons of trash a day, the GEM can provide daily power requirements for a 200,000 square foot building. The GEM has an upfront cost of $850,000, which may deter some. But many companies pay upwards of $200,000 per year for trash removal, which means the GEM would pay for itself in a few short years. IST Energy is also considering leasing options for the machine.
So far, schools, hospitals, and government buildings have approached the company with interest in the GEM. The machine is designed to be simple and effective. Trash goes into the machine through a loader, and then meets a shredder which turns the waste into small pellets. The pellets are placed into an air-fed gasifier the company created, which generates synthetic gas. That gas powers the building that the GEM is connected to.
As far as innovation goes, the GEM takes the cake. It’s simple, useful, cost-effective, and goes a long way towards promoting conservation and reusability.
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