Producing Power using the 201 ha of Previously Landfilled Waste

Estrutural landfill in Brasília is the largest landfill in Brazil and, in fact, all of South America. Located around 20 km from the heart of the Brazilian national government, Estrutural is next to one of the most important environmental preservation areas of the Cerrado biome, the National Park of Brasilia. It was opened in the 1960s and finally closed in 2018 when it occupied 201 hectares, the equivalent of about 280 football fields.

Since Brasília was founded in 1960, it has grown to become the nation’s fourth-largest city. It is home to about 2.5 million people, who have deposited more than 2,000 tons of municipal solid waste at the landfill every day. In 2016, 830,055 tons of household waste was disposed of on the site. The total quantity of waste deposited at the site is estimated to be 40 million tons. It was also an important source of income for thousands of scavengers. A nearby community called Cidade Estrutural, set up by waste pickers, is home to an estimated 40,000 people.

The waste fuel deposited at the landfill contain approximately 200,000 TJ of energy. This equals over eight million tons of coal or over five million cubic meters of light fuel oil (LFO). It also equals the energy in the crude oil produced in Brazil in 12 days. Comparing it to energy consumption, the average electricity consumption per capita in Brazil is 2,830 kWh per annum. Thus, assuming a 25 % conversion rate of waste fuel to electricity, the waste landfilled in Estrutural could power the city of Brasília for full two years. Naturally, new waste is being generated continuously and utilizing it in power generation would cover roughly 8 % of the local power demand in Brasília.

‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is a common description regarding waste-related activities. As long as the waste sorting and dumping / landfilling is done far away from ‘my back yard’, only a few people are bothered by it. Only illustrating the amount of landfilled waste helps people realize the enormity of the problem. In Brasília, the landfilled waste fills up a hemisphere with a 309m radius. This is enough waste to top up the famous Maracanã football stadium, largest in the world, in Rio de Janeiro 27 times over. Or the National Congress (Congresso Nacional do Brasil) buildings in Brasília over 100 times.

Landfill-mining is a relatively straight-forward process. Excavators and other standard mining equipment are used to dig into the existing landfill. The waste material is fed to sorting machinery, where non-combustibles (decomposed biomaterial, soil, gravel etc.) and recyclables such as metals and glass are separated. The remaining waste, consisting mostly of wood-based materials, plastics, and textiles, is fed to the wasteWOIMA® waste-to-energy power plant and incinerated for energy. This can be in the form of thermal energy (heating or cooling), electricity or a combination of both utilized by local people and industries.

Our offering to landfill-mining, the wasteWOIMA® WtE plant, is a robust solution for combusting different waste streams, including landfill-mined waste, to energy. A single boiler island (WOIMAline) wasteWOIMA® plant used roughly 40,000 to 50,000 tons (~100,000 to 200,000 m3) of waste fuel freeing about one acre to one hectare of land per annum. Several WOIMAlines can be integrated to create a larger power plant. Once all the waste at the landfill has been used, the modular plant can be dismantled and relocated elsewhere. The earlier separated soil and clean bottom ash resulting from the incineration process can then be used to landscape the former landfill area.

Follow our blog series on landfill-mining as we travel through some of the world’s largest landfills and dumpsites and asses their power generation potential.

Read more about the safe closure of the Estrutural landfill here.

Read more about our landfill-mining solution below



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WOIMA Corporation is a Finnish supplier of best-in-class waste-to-value products, projects and services worldwide. We have developed solutions that enable us, and the customer, to transform and recycle virtually any waste stream into raw materials and energy.  At WOIMA we combine Finnish engineering know-how in waste management with power generation design expertise. These solutions are used in Finland every day. They support the circular economy ideology and ensure that less than 1% of Finland’s waste ends up in landfills.

Our mission is to improve quality of life both locally and globally, as well as empower people to utilize waste as a commodity. Our decades of international project management experience ensure an on-time, in-budget and high-quality WOIMA solution delivery across the globe.


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