Thursday, August 1, 2013

An inside look at Waste-to Energy

Derelict fishing gear getting ready to be recycled and turned into energy! Photo courtesy of B. Zeiber, NH Sea Grant

NHSG/UNHCE Extension Specialist, Dr. Gabby Bradt and NHSG Doyle Fellow Katherine Rafuse recently attended a reception for the Fishing For Energy Partnership and got a tour of the facility where N.H.’s marine debris — specifically, derelict fishing gear — is turned into energy.  Dr. Bradt spoke briefly about the progress of the program in NH(which is run in partnership with Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation) .
The Fishing for Energy Primary partners. Photo courtesy of B. Zeiber, NH Sea Grant
There are seven ports in northern New England that have dumpsters dedicated to derelict fishing gear, like old lobster traps, fishing nets and monofilament line. This access to dumpsters specifically for fishing gear is critical because most transfer stations won’t take the gear. This past April, the 20+ tons of derelict lobster traps that were collected from NH beaches in the Annual Lobster Trap cleanup, were taken to Covanta Energy, an energy-from-waste plant in Haverhill, Mass., as part of the NH Marine Debris to Energy Program. This program provides a safe, reliable way for fishermen and cleanup volunteers to dispose of the fishing gear they encounter at sea or on the beach.

More than two million pounds of derelict fishing gear has been collected as part of NOAA’s nationwide Marine Debris to Energy Program since 2008. NOAA has partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Schnitzer Steel and Covanta Energy to continue providing the services necessary to collect and convert 300,000 pounds of fishing gear annually into energy for use in our homes.
Fishing rope, derelict lobster traps and other fishing debris. Photo courtesy of B. Zeiber, NH Sea Grant
As a mass-burn facility, Covanta does not need to break down the trash and fishing gear before combusting it. They first recycle whatever they can and remove anything radioactive. Whatever is left gets visually inspected, piled up and picked up by a giant claw and placed in the boiler for combustion.

This Covanta plant has pollution control technologies associated with it, so it’s more than just an incinerator. It captures the energy from the process and sells about 40 Megawatts per hour to the utility companies, or about 1,000 Megawatts per day, powering approximately 40,000 homes in a city the size of Haverhill, said Joe Becker, facility manager at Covanta.

L-R: NHSG Doyle Fellow, Katherine Rafuse, NFWF coordinator, Erin Hoffman, NOAA Marine Debris Program Deputy Director, Nanacy Wallace and NHSG Fisheries Extension Specialist, Dr. Gabby Bradt. Photo courtesy of B. Zeiber, NH Sea Grant

For more information on the energy-from-waste process, please visit:

By Rebecca Zeiber
NH Sea Grant, Communications

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