Q&A: What would be a good chemical reaction to demonstrate the process of waste to energy?

Question by …: What would be a good chemical reaction to demonstrate the process of waste to energy?
We’ll probably have to burn something, because that is what they do in the waste to energy process. But how are we going to show that it is green energy (environmentally friendly) and that energy is being created?

Best answer:

Answer by Blacklight Blue
What you want to do is collect methane gas released as plant and or animal refuse decomposes. I think the easiest way to do this would be to find someone with a compost pile and ask if you can stick a pipe down into the center of the pile. Secure a lightweight plastic bag like from a dry cleaner, with an air tight seal to the top of the pipe. Gases produced by decomposition can travel up the pipe (assuming there is no other easier vent) and will be collected in the bag. Don’t use a balloon, the pressure will not be enough to inflate it. When some gas has collected in the bag, tie the end closed. The easiest, and most impressive way to show that methane has collected would be to have your teacher take the class outside and ignite the bag from a safe distance. Maybe the teacher can think of some safe way to tap into the gas in the bag in a safe way so it can be ignited in a classroom.

There are other ways to collect methane from decomposing matter, but this seems to be the easiest.

Since you mention waste, I assumed you were referring to gases released by decay. Otherwise you could just burn any piece of flammable material from a garbage can, but that is not such a cool experiment.

PS. Energy is not being created. this is impossible, it can only change form. In this case sunlight made a plant grow, when it decomposes, its tissues are broken down into smaller pieces. The energy of the sunlight is now stored in the plant tissues and the decomposition products. When the plant or the methane is burned, the same amount of energy will be released as heat as went into the plant in the first place. Energy and matter can be changed from one to another, but not created or destroyed.

Tony: Your chemical reaction is wrong as written. Carbon is not made, it is carbon dioxide and monoxide and soot. It is not possible to make diamonds like this. The best manmade diamonds are not big and flawless, they are more microscopic and can’t be cut like normal diamonds.

What do you think? Answer below!

One Response to “Q&A: What would be a good chemical reaction to demonstrate the process of waste to energy?”

  1. burning of methane to heat up the house as well as get rich by producing diamond as waste.

    CH4 (gas) + O2 (gas) –> C (diamond) + 2 H2O + heat

    heat = 495 kJ/mol
    C = diamond (molecular weight = 12 g/mol 1 carat = 0.2 g)
    69 carat diamond worth $ 3,000,000

The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.