We’ve all heard the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” What if I were to tell you that your trash can be everyone’s treasure. It’s true. In the following video Mike Hart, the CEO of Sierra Energy, based in Davis, California, illustrates a waste processing system that sounds too good to be true, yet it is. His company has figured out “molecular recycling,” which is a fancy of way of saying that can turn everyday waste—straight up junk—into renewable energy. Simply put: waste goes in, clean energy comes out, and greenhouse gases are reduced. What’s the catch you ask? There is none. The process doesn’t require inordinate amounts of time. It also doesn’t discriminate between specific types of waste; it can convert pretty much all materials into valuable energy. There is no hocus pocus.
Everything Sierra Energy accomplishes hinges on one piece of machinery—the blast furnace. Back in the day blast furnaces were nothing more than incinerators used to melt down metal. Scrap metal would be thrown it, it would liquefy in the high heat, and anything else carbon-based would literally go up in smoke. That smoke would shoot into the atmosphere to become the clear blue sky’s problem (“junky pollution,” Hart calls it). In retrospect, this was a huge mistake. It turns out that with just a couple of tiny tweaks, that gas can be transformed into valuable green energy. Sierra Energy has been using their new tech to show the world just how valuable this solution can be.
So how does it work? Sierra Energy tosses waste into the top of its onsite blast furnace (gasifier), the contents react with pure oxygen that’s being injected into the bottom of the gasifier, and a combustion reaction that reaches a scorching 4,000 degrees occurs. The process only takes about 20 minutes. The result? Synthetic gas or “syngas,” a mixture of 70% carbon monoxide and 30% hydrogen. This 70/30 ratio just so happens to be the just right measurement needed to create everything from liquid fuels to ethanol to fertilizer. Or, the hydrogen can be isolated to be used as a power supply for zero emission cars. Bet you never knew garbage could be so priceless. Click on the video to learn how Sierra Energy is redefining how we look at garbage.