Today, the environment related issues are rapidly increasing. The planet "Earth" is on the verge of tipping point, where the global warming and the climate change will become irreversible. According to many scientists, the world's temperature looks set to raise by 6 Â° C by 2100 if the present emission rate of greenhouse gas continues. They believe this decade may be our last chance to do something effective against climate change. Besides, the population increase coupled with the varied production and consuming habits have contributed to the drastic global increase in the waste concerned health hazards. As a whole, it threatens biodiversity across an entire biome and beyond. For example, within the last century, the population of tigers have declined by 95%. The best possible solution for overcoming these menaces is to depend on the renewable sources for fulfilling the energy needs.
In the developing countries like India and other third world countries, the scattered wastes and unauthorized garbage dumps are leading to rapidly spreading communicable diseases and offensive odours. Many a times, these wastes are just tossed into nearby water bodies viz: rivers, lakes or onto cultivated soil causing potent damage to the environment: air pollution, land pollution, water pollution. The WHO reports show that about 24% of global diseases are caused by environmental exposures. The report further estimates that more than 33% of disease in children under the age of 5 is caused by environmental exposures. Preventing environmental risk could save as many as four million lives a year in children alone, mostly in developing countries. On the other hand, out of 12.7 million cancer cases and 7.6 million cancer deaths (approximately) estimated to have occurred worldwide, 56% & 64% of them respectively have occurred in the economically developing world.
The developed nations like United States, Germany etc. are updated with latest technologies for the renewable energy production including: Waste to energy production, MBT (Mechanical Biological Treatment) plants etc. to produce electricity. Latest news reveal that the US currently leads the way in clean energy after investing $48 billion, second stands China with $45.5 billion followed by Germany with $31 billion towards the advancement of renewable energy sector in 2011. The developed countries are taking such effective initiatives to minimise the dependence on fossil fuels, coupled with the waste treatment to reduce the environmental pollution. While in developing countries like India, the capital required for the country's development is directed towards the commercial energy imports etc., especially on the oil (90-93% imports). In such a scenario, it is difficult to target the other social issues like poverty, food crises etc.
Municipal solid waste is the waste from residential, commercial, and institutional sources. These can be broadly classified under a common roof known as organic wastes. Such wastes are treated in MBT plants, which combine a sorting facility with a form of biological treatment such as composting or anaerobic digestion. Many developed nations today follow the widely accepted ValorgaÂ® Anaerobic Digestion technology to produce renewable fuels like methane gas, useful for producing electricity.
Such plants depend on the anaerobic digestion (AD) processes for the breakdown of the biodegradable materials in the absence of oxygen. In AD, initially the large organic molecules are broken down into smaller units (sugars, amino acids) by bacterial hydrolysis, making it available for other bacteria. These are acted upon by the acidogenic bacteria which convert them into CO2, H2, NH3 and organic acids, by a process called acidification. The acetogenic bacterial species convert the produced organic acids into acetic acid. The last group of bacteria called methanogens; produce biogas (methane and CO2) from the acetate, H2 and CO2. This biogas is a medium-Btu gas containing 50 to 70% methane. The biogas produced can be used on the spot to generate electricity and heat using a generator. If a nearby industrial user exists, the biogas can be conveyed over short distances for such uses as boiler fuel. This gas can also be purified extensively (by removing H2S) to pipeline quality, pressurized and can be used as compressed natural gas (CNG), a safe and clean vehicular fuel.
It is evident that the population is proportional to the quantity of waste produced. The Govt. of India has to take up effective long-term clean energy policies and initiatives to encourage volunteers and investors to start such projects. With the massive population of our country, we have huge potential for obtaining the wastes from various sources without any difficultness. Establishing such plants would also provide employment opportunities to many. It is high time for developing countries like India, to establish such treatment and energy production plants. I would contribute my best to witness India as a self-sustained nation.
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