Scientists Report that Converting Waste to Biofuel Could Cut CO2 Emissions by 80%

Date: September 30, 2009

Source: News Room

A team of researchers from Singapore and Switzerland argue that converting waste otherwise destined for landfills into cellulosic ethanol biofuel instead would reduce global carbon emissions by up to 80%. "Our results suggest that fuel from processed waste biomass, such as paper and cardboard, is a promising clean energy solution," said researcher Hugh Tan of the National University of Singapore. The researchers estimated the waste generated by 173 countries using the United Nation's Human Development Index and then estimated the amount of gasoline consumed in those countries from the Earthtrends database. Their calculations indicate that 82.93 billion liters of cellulosic ethanol could be generated from landfill waste, which when substituted for gasoline would reduce carbon emissions by 29-86% for every unit of energy produced. "If this technology continues to improve and mature these numbers are certain to increase," said another member of the team, Lian Pin Koh from ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

Journal reference:
Shi et al. The biofuel potential of municipal solid waste. GCB Bioenergy, 2009; DOI: (

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