Patronized by first lady Emine Erdoğan, the "Zero Waste Project," continues to raise public awareness in Turkey. Now, a group of Turkish entrepreneurs has joined the efforts to generate electricity using urban waste.
The project saw the establishment of Turkey's first power plant that generates energy from urban waste through thermal treatment. The 18-megawatt power plant is located in the eastern Anatolian province of Malatya.
The facility will meet the electricity needs of approximately 40,000 households. It is the first facility in the world to generate energy from the urban waste that has gone through five different treatment methods - incineration, thermal gasification, biogas, garbage gas and waste heat recovery. Established by the Mimsan Group, the plant will not only illuminate local households but will also be used to heat buildings and grow flowers in greenhouses.
Mimsan Group CEO Haci Ahmet İlhan said that energy generation through the combustion of urban waste has been practiced around the world for nearly a century now. "This method of generating energy from urban waste is new in Turkey. The method of obtaining energy from urban waste combustion was first introduced at our plant in Malatya," he said.
"Although incineration is the oldest and the cleanest waste treatment method, it is the right method for calorie-containing materials with low humidity that will not release substances harmful to the atmosphere," İlhan added. "The heat energy released via this method is converted into high-pressure steam and electricity is generated by steam turbines. Ash formed as a result of combustion will be used as raw material at cement factories."
Another method used in the power plant is the thermal gasification method. Mimsan group CEO said that urban waste materials that may release harmful emissions into the atmosphere will be treated in the thermal gasification method.
He said that the plant will also use biogas method. "Pure organic materials in the waste contain hydrocarbons, but also carry moisture that adversely affects combustion," İlhan said, adding that the most accurate method for this material is the release of biogas through biological fermentation in digestion pools. "The resulting biogas is converted into electricity by means of gas engines. Fermented organic material will be used as landscape raw material by the Malatya Municipality," he said. He further added that another energy production method used at the Malatya plant will be waste heat recovery. It will be used in residential and greenhouse heating.
"The various heat generated during the other four processes will be used to heat households and greenhouses," İhan said. "A part of the flowers to be used in the Malatya Municipality for in landscaping projects will be grown in these greenhouses. So, in a sense, Malatya's waste will transform into blooming flowers."
He said that they also want to meet the heating and hot water needs of the 3,000-capacity student dormitory near the power plant in the first stage. "Around 55 percent of New York's heating is provided by waste heat from power plants. Many cities in Germany also use the same method to heat homes," said İhan.