Some 195.5 million tons of waste are generated in South Korea every year. While 87.4 percent including plastics and metal are recycled, 5.1 percent are buried and the other 5.2 percent (one million tons) are incinerated. An enormous amount of heat energy is generated during a waste incineration process but many incineration facilities just let the heat disperse into the air through chimneys.
A waste heat recovery system normally uses the thermal energy generated during the trash-burning process to heat water and create steam. In South Korea, steam generated by waste heat recovery systems is redistributed to a nearby district heating system. The high-pressure gas is also used to turn small-sized turbines to generate electricity.
Data released by the National Institute of Environmental Research operated by the Ministry of Environment showed that 34 waste incineration facilities equipped with a waste heat recovery system retrieved some 7.6 million gigacalories of energy and reused 5.58 gigacalories (73.5 percent) of energy, which is about the amount of energy used by 100,000 people every year.
The state institute said that 2.9 million gigacalories of energy was used for generating steam for district heating, 2.3 million gigacalories for heating water, and 311.000 gigacalories for electricity generation. The institute said that about 392 billion won ($308.9 million) could be saved annually by reusing waste heat from trash incineration facilities and creating up to 6.8 billion worth of carbon credits.
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