Wet Waste-to-Energy Resources in the United States

Anelia Milbrandt, Donna Heimiller, Timothy Seiple, Richard Skaggs, Andre Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus Citations


Waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies present an opportunity to recycle organic waste material into renewable energy while offsetting disposal and environmental costs. A key challenge to ensuring economic and environmental viability of WTE is understanding the variability of individual WTE resource characteristics, including their location, amount, and quality. The main objective of this study is to estimate the wet WTE resource potential in the United States and illustrate its geographic distribution. The wet resources considered in this study are wastewater sludge, animal manure, food waste, and FOG (fats, oils, and greases). This study is the first to achieve results below national level, at the finest geographic resolution. Our analysis indicates that about 566 teragrams (Tg) of wet WTE resources are generated annually in the United States. This amount corresponds to about 1 exajoule (EJ), which is sufficient to displace about 18% of the 2015 U.S. on-highway diesel consumption on an energy basis. About half of this potential is generated by animal manure.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)32-47
Number of pages16
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-71769


  • Animal manure
  • Fats, oil and greases
  • Food waste
  • Waste resources
  • Waste-to-energy
  • Wastewater sludge


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