Plastic pellets could help reduce dependence on coal at the MU power plant

By District Energy posted 05-25-2021 12:40

  

Missourian

Summary

Plastic is gaining traction as the next source of sustainable energy, despite its reputation as a major polluter.

Environmentalists are looking for new ways to reduce landfill pollution, and power plants are looking for energy sources that produce lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Some believe burning plastic could solve both of those problems.

Wisconsin-based Convergen Energy creates fuel pellets from pre-consumer paper and plastic. These are the scraps industrial manufacturers would otherwise throw out because of misprints on products or other concerns.

MU has tested a sample of Convergen’s fuel pellets at the campus power plant on East Stewart Road. About 5% of the campus energy comes from coal, and MU Energy Management Director Gregg Coffin hopes the pellets can replace this.

Campus energy workers are now seeking approval from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to be able to fully implement the process at the power plant.

Testing was carried out for a year, ending in November. If approved by the state, the plant could begin the operation this fall.

One major positive outcome is the reduction of plastic pollution in landfills and oceans. The U.S. recycling rate of plastic was under 9% in 2018, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

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