A enterprising energy company recycles heat from smokestacks to create electricity without burning additional fossil fuels.
Enough wasted heat energy escapes from industrial smokestacks each year to replace 120 coal plants. Thomas Casten, chairman of Recycled Energy Development, explains to "Living on Earth's" Bruce Gellerman that the only thing stopping recycled heat technology from taking off is outdated federal and state laws.
Even in post-industrial America, smokestacks still define our landscape. There are half a million smokestacks in the U.S., and nearly 48,000 emit heat above 500 degrees Fahrenheit. To Tom Casten that's energy literally going up in smoke. His company RED sees a lot of green in capturing it. Casten is chairman of the Illinois-based company Recycled Energy Development – RED. RED buys industrial power plants, recaptures waste heat and then sells the power back to the original company at a discount. Now RED wants to expand and sell excess power back to the grid.
CASTEN: "We have an EPA study that says we could make 20 percent of all U.S. electricity by simply capturing the energy that industry wastes using proven technology. Probably could get to 30 percent with some slight new development of technology.
" ... the technology is very old and it's the same technology that the power plants use. We basically use the heat to boil water and make steam, we use the steam to drive a turbine, which is the same thing that every nuclear, coal or gas plant does, and the turbine drives an electric generator. The only difference is they burn fuel and release emissions and we don't. The plants that we build don't use any fossil fuel. They simply recycle the waste energy out of these stacks you've described or other forms of waste energy, and greatly improve the energy productivity."
Hosted by Steve Curwood, "Living on Earth" is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. More "Living on Earth.
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