Electricity From Trash
Trash trucks like this one are a common sight on city streets. Where do they take the trash? Many go to landfills, but some go to power plants.
The Back Story
- Trash-burning power plants turn garbage into electricity. There are almost 90 such plants in the U.S. and hundreds more around the world. There may be one in your community.
- You might think that burning trash, instead of taking it to a landfill, would be good for the environment. But there are cons as well as pros of producing electricity from garbage.
- To understand the pros and cons, you first need to know how trash is used to produce electricity. You can see how it’s done by watching this short video: http://science.discovery.com/tv-shows/how-do-they-do-it
What Do You Think?
Learn more about generating electricity from trash at the link below. Then answer the following questions.
- What is the first step in producing electricity from trash?
- How does burning trash lead to the production of electricity? Outline the steps involved.
- Burning anything, whether it is trash or a fossil fuel such as coal, produces carbon dioxide and air pollution. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. How do trash-burning power plants reduce their emissions of harmful substances?
- Despite the use of pollution controls, many people have concerns about burning trash to produce electricity. List the pros and cons of producing electricity from trash.
- Based on the pros and cons, is it a good idea to produce electricity from trash? What do you think? Explain your decision.