Thursday, August 1, 2013

Energy from Waste!

From plastic bottles to balloons to old fishing gear, the oceans are heavily polluted.  This issue is of high concern and has led to the collaboration of four organizations to develop the Fishing For Energy partnership.  The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Foundation (NOAA), Schnitzer Steel and Covanta Energy Corporation have come together to use marine debris to make energy.  This is done at a Covanta waste to energy facility, one of which is in Haverhill, MA.  I was able to accompany one of my mentors, Dr. Gabby Bradt, to Haverhill to tour the facility and listen to the partners discuss the progress of this program.

Covanta facility in Haverhill, Photo courtesy of NH Sea Grant
The event began with introductions from each of the partners in regards to the progress of this effort.  Gabby spoke a brief piece to emphasize the role local fishermen play in this project by assisting in marine clean ups at the Isles of Shoals and utilizing a marine debris bucket on board their boats to reduce pollution in the water.  Collectively, all parties agree that utilizing Covanta's resources to convert marine debris (i.e. fishing gear, balloons etc.)  into energy by placing waste bins in major ports to collect the debris and transport it to a Covanta facility such as the one we were able to tour in Haverhill.
Gabby giving her talk! 
The Covanta tour was a unique and extremely interesting experience.  The tour began where the debris is all dropped off to begin its conversion.  The amount of waste in the facility was overwhelming (and I'm not just talking about the smell), but encouraging to think that in a short period of time this waste would become usable energy.
First stop for the waste!
Close up of lobster traps in the waste facility.

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