Massachusetts-based IST Energy has come up with an ingenious method of generating electric power from the daily waste. The Green Energy Machine (GEM) that the company developed does not look far from dumpsters commonly seen behind office buildings, including university buildings. However, instead of trucks collecting trash, the GEM offers the capability to turn trash into an energy source and use it to generate electric power.
At a maximum waste processing capability of three tons, the GEM generates enough heat and electricity for a 200,000ft2 building. With a unit cost of $850,000 per machine, it is expected to have a payback period of three years or more due to savings from waste collection fees, lower energy bills with GEM-generated electricity, and tax credit. Environmentally, a reduction in waste product creates less landfill and the use of on-site dumpster / generator machine removes the necessity of waste transportation to the landfill.
Use of everyday trash regardless of their composition brings flexibility to the GEM because wherever there is a need for a commercial sized dumpster, it can be used and the user can reap the financial and environmental benefits.
I think the GEM is a viable idea and product which can be adopted into the UT campus-wide waste management system. With an increasing campus size and construction of more buildings, there is more demand for power and chilling stations. With the GEM system placed in the buildings that produce a large amount of daily waste such as Texas Union and dorms (especially), these buildings can become more self-sufficient in electricity while reducing the cost of waste removal along with food-rotting stink.