Industrial ecology is the concept of a diverse group of industrial plants, residential housing and agricultural activities all operating close to each other.
The concept of waste is important - waste is merely a product for which there is no market. Industrial ecology can provide you with waste customers.
At Kalundborg, Denmark an eco-industrial park has demonstrated the benefits of industrial ecology for decades. At its centre is a 1500 MW coal-fired power station. It acts as a cogeneration plant, providing steam to a nearby oil refinery and a pharmaceuticals plant.
Waste heat from the power station, which would usually be rejected to the environment, is used to heat thousands of nearby homes as well as a local fish farm.
Sludge from the fish farm is sold as a fertiliser.
Sulphur captured from power station’s flue gas desulphurisation unit is used to manufacture synthetic gypsum at a nearby plant.
Benefits include big energy savings, water savings, reduced imports, and reduced emissions.
It won’t work with traditional “monoculture” industrial parks. The diversity of businesses, feedstocks and products is what makes it work.
It’s a different way of thinking about industrial business. But it’s the kind of thinking we need to help solve our environmental challenges