Rio explores waste-to-energy technology
Pilot plant.

Rio explores waste-to-energy technology

City says pilot plant can power 1,000 cars or 1,000 homes per month.

January 8, 2019

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is testing technology to process organic waste into energy.

The city announces a pilot waste-to-energy plant in Comlurb has completed a month in operation and is able to extract 100 to 150 cubic meters of biogas per ton, with 50 to 60 percent methane concentration.

The technology, which produces fertilizer and natural gas from waste, was developed by the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in partnership with Methanum Tecnologia Ambiental, Brazil.

The city says the pilot plant, which was funded by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), will allow testing the “efficiency parameters of the methanation technology by anaerobic composting and widening the scale."

With a processing capability of 30 tons per day, the city says the plant’s monthly biogas production can power 1,000 cars or generate energy for more than 1,000 homes.

The unit consists of modules, which receive the waste and are sealed for a period of two to three weeks while the bacteria introduced into the compartment degrade the organic matter and produce methane. The gas is stored while the remaining material is removed and used as fertilizer.

Microorganisms are sprayed into the modules through pipes with heavy use of electronics. Sensors and meters enable controlling and optimizing biogas production. The plant also has a generator to produce electric energy from gas combustion.

The city says the Comlurb plant receives solid waste from different neighborhoods with different consumption and waste production standards, offering enough diversity to “simulate the conditions of different Brazilian towns.”

In addition, Comlurb has a conventional composting plant with in situ aerobic digestion, which allows comparing the results of the two technologies.