Incineration is the second oldest method for the disposal of waste—the oldest being landfill. By definition, incineration is the conversion of waste material to gas products and solid residues by the process of combustion. Combustion under optimal conditions can cut MSW 90% by volume and 75% by weight. Hot gases generated as a result of combustion exit the furnace and pass through boilers which recover energy in the form of steam. This steam can be sold directly or converted to electricity in a turbine. With dwindling landfill space, incineration reduces volume, but some scientists caution that incinerator residue is more dangerous and should not be disposed of in regular landfills.
The combustion process carries the risk of releasing air pollutants. Emissions from incinerators can include toxic metals and toxic organics. The primary goals of waste-to-energy incineration are to maximize combustion and min imize pollution. Two other goals are high plant availability and low facility maintenance cost.
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