Alternatives to landfilling polyurethane scrap
by Stephanie Bernard
Today, there are more options
than ever for reuse of polyurethane scrap materials and some of
these options are even available at a low cost or no cost. The
use of polyurethanes has changed considerably over the past few
decades, including how it is reused when it becomes a scrap material.
To some companies, polyurethanes can be just as valuable after
they have served their intended purpose and are ready to be discarded.
According to the Alliance for
the Polyurethanes Industry’s (API) 2004 End-Use Market Survey,
the polyurethane industry has experienced strong growth between
2002 and 2004. As consumer confidence in polyurethane materials
grows and the demand for a greater comfort of living increases,
more and more polyurethane will end up in our landfills as waste.
But companies don’t have to “waste” these materials
by sending them to a landfill. Polyurethane has a high BTU value,
which makes them optimal for energy recovery.
is no surprise with the price of natural gas reaching an all time
high, there is an increased interest from some companies to use
alternative sources of fuel. These new fuels may not only reduce
cost, but can be environmentally friendly, as they can reduce
the volume of solid waste entering landfills as well as help reduce
some of the dependence on fossil fuels, which may lead to conservation
of some natural resources.
scrap such as rigid foam and elastomers are just a couple of examples
of the type of materials that have been targeted for this type
The Alliance for the Polyurethanes
Industry (API) has identified one facility that is taking advantage
of this type of reuse today. Dynegy Midwest Generation, located
in Illinois, uses polyurethane scrap and other materials as alternative
fuels to provide electricity to markets and customers throughout
the United States. Currently, they can burn over 500 tons of scrap
material per day. Dynegy’s goal is to identify fuels that
reduce emissions, reduce costs and do not impair operations. According
to Dynegy’s estimates for their process, for each ton of
coal displaced by polyurethane scrap, there is a reduction of
over eight pounds of sulfur dioxide (SO2) produced. API is working
to identify facilities within the geographic proximity of Dynegy
that have polyurethane scrap materials that can be sent to their
facilities to be used as an engineered fuel.
Most of the problems with alternative
fuels are material handling related. Materials sent for reuse
are often too light, misshaped or generated in an insufficient
quantity to merit delivery. The solution to these problems is
to have an aggregator compile the material and make the final
fuel size and consistency that is ideal for the power plant. The
specifications for the polyurethane scrap material accepted by
Dynegy are listed in the above chart. The price for polyurethane
alternative fuels will depend on the quality but could have an
average yield of $0.70 to $0.75 per MMBTU, which could equal about
$16 to $18 per ton delivered to the plant. All and all, better
than a trip to the landfill!