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KLINOTECH Recykling Molekularny odpadów RMO
RMO - Recykling Molekularny Opdadów
12 November 2022

Energy is everywhere-holistic approach to obtaining energy in the reality. 

How and what kind of energy do we generate?

The civilization we have created on Earth is a civilization that made us dependent on energy. The only correct concept of energy production was considered to build and utilise a large power plants, which supplied energy to a very large population of people living in a very large areas. Both with regard to electricity and heat, it is done all the time through an extensive infrastructure - a system of transmission lines, transformers or district heating networks when it comes to transmitting heat energy. We transmit electricity more often than heat energy, which is associated with the high costs of building a heat pipeline network and still significant losses that accompany the transmission of heat energy over long distances.

Trends and current reality

The events that have affected the world in the last few years have drawn even greater attention of people, including decision-makers, to issues related to the broadly understood energy sector, both professional and prosumer, i.e. dispersed. Increased attention has started to be paid to renewable energies, and hydrogen is referred to as the universal fuel of the future. Increasing amounts of money are allocated to the development of technologies related to the production of hydrogen, its purification, transport, storage as well as the development of technologies related to renewable energy. Still, the most commonly used fuels, which are used to generate both electricity and thermal energy, are coal (hard coal and lignite), petroleum derivatives, crude oil itself, and natural gas.

Energy created from two elements, with the help of a third ...

It is worth paying attention to the fact that in the elemental composition of each fuel, only two elements are responsible for generating energy: carbon (C) and hydrogen (H). Both elemental carbon and hydrogen are the primary energy carriers given to mankind by nature. In order to release energies from them, one more element is needed which is oxygen (O). The only example of energy produced without the contribution of at least two of these three elements is nuclear energy.

Hydrogen, accounting for about 75% (by mass) of all matter and is the most abundant element in the Universe. It occurs in a large amounts, for example, in stars (including the Sun), interstellar matter and in interplanetary space. Hydrogen clouds (molecular hydrogen H₂ nebulae, called H II regions) are the birthplace of new stars.

On Earth, hydrogen occurs, for example, in: rocks, natural gas deposits (consisting mainly of methane), volcanic gases, air - in traces of approx. 0.019%. Hydrogen on Earth is practically not in its free state, and most of the hydrogen on Earth is in the form of water or organic compounds.

Oxygen is the most abundant element on Earth - the oxygen (O) content in its crust is 46.4%. It also makes up 20.95% by volume of the Earth's atmosphere (23.25% by weight). In the form of compounds with other elements, it is part of the hydrosphere (where its content is about 89% - water) and the lithosphere as oxides (e.g. silica (sand) contains about 53% oxygen). Free oxygen occurs in the form of diatomic O₂ and triatomic particles - ozone O₃ (mainly in the ozonosphere).

Carbon on Earth exists in highly stable forms that require high temperatures to react even with oxygen. The greatest amounts of inorganic carbon are found in limestone, dolomite and carbon dioxide, while significant amounts of organic carbon are found in fossil fuels. Carbon as an element makes up more compounds than any other chemical element put together. The number of organic carbon compounds registered in the Beilstein database in 2008 was 10,853,341, but the number of potential compounds is unlimited. Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen, helium and oxygen. It is present in all living organisms. In the human body, after oxygen, it is the most abundant element in terms of mass (approx. 18.5%). This amount, combined with the variety of organic compounds, makes carbon the chemical basis of life. There is no life on Earth without carbon.

We have a constant supply of the elements needed to generate energy! The amounts of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, and the amounts of all the other elements on Earth, do not change. Only the chemical compounds in which their atoms occur change.

A perfect example are carbon and oxygen atoms and the resulting carbon dioxide. For example, by combustion (rapid oxidation of carbon in atmospheric oxygen), carbon dioxide is produced, which then, e.g. in plants, through photosynthesis with the participation of hydrogen from water and sunlight, releases oxygen into the atmosphere, and carbon in the form of carbohydrates is incorporated into the plant. The phenomenon of this natural phenomenon is best captured by the fact that for the same process (decomposition of carbon dioxide into oxygen and hydrogen) mankind needs high temperatures, and the energy input is greater than the energy obtained from the oxidation reaction. Plants do the same at the ambient temperature level.

Thus, for the production of energy, we need at most three of the four most common elements on Earth, two of which are primary energy carriers, and the third is necessary to release this energy from them. The vast majority of organic matter, both of natural and industrial origin, is made of these three elements. Everything that our civilization produces also consists mainly of atoms of these three elements. Most of the materials and products produced are of organic origin, and the approximate elemental composition is as follows:

Carbon (C)– 55%, Hydrgen (H2)– 6%, Oxygen (O)– 38%, other – 1%

Energy in waste - present or future?

The same elemental composition is also shared by waste (materials and products after the end of their life cycle), which end up in landfills, and which we are unable to deal with in a rational manner all the time.

Waste is subjected to various technological processes in order to recycle or utilize it. If we are talking about recycling, it is mainly material and raw material recycling, i.e. processing waste to its original form.

We also distinguish chemical recycling, which includes the processing of materials into products with different chemical-physical properties, and organic recycling, i.e. where waste is anaerobically or aerobically treated under controlled conditions, using microorganisms.

There is also energy recycling, which is the partial recovery of energy used to make products which, after use, ends up in a landfill or landfill.

Depending on the type of waste and the technology used, it can be used to obtain solid, liquid or gaseous energy carriers. If, however, we are talking about waste disposal, these are mainly the processes of thermal neutralization of waste, most often incineration, less frequently pyrolysis and gasification.

The way of dealing with waste, i.e. the choice of recycling or disposal technology, depends on the group to which a given waste has been classified and is in most cases regulated by law in Poland and the EU. In other words, it is allowed to incinerate some wastes and not others. There are also purely technological and economic reasons for this - not all waste can be incinerated and not all waste is profitable to incinerate.

Often, before subjecting a given group of waste to a given process, e.g. thermal, it should be subjected to preliminary technological processes such as segregation, drying, shredding, etc.

There are also groups of waste, mainly classified as hazardous, which we cannot deal with and then they are most often landfilled. This process is known as "disposal by landfilling". Another group of waste is mixed waste, some of which cannot be segregated or it is simply not profitable. Then, as before, we neutralize them through storage. In Poland, in 2020, as much as 42.3% of municipal waste was subject to disposal by landfilling (data from the Central Statistical Office). A separate category is industrial waste of organic origin. These are mainly waste classified as hazardous waste.

RMO technology as a response to the limitations of existing technologies for obtaining energy from waste

Common features of all these categories, types and groups of waste are their elemental composition (carbon C - 55%, hydrogen H₂ - 6%, oxygen O₂ - 38%, others - 1%) and the fact that they are mostly wet ( contain water in varying amounts).

So everything that surrounds us has a measurable energy value, i.e. energy is everywhere, and the RMO technology, which treats waste as a renewable energy source, devoid of the disadvantages of currently functioning solutions (harmful emissions, preliminary process) will solve some of our additional civilization problems.

Dariusz Kalinowski 

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