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DENTON (CBS11) – UT Arlington is helping Denton try to convert garbage into power and prevent 700 tons of garbage a day from piling into mountains of garbage.

The idea has drawn students and researchers from 27 different countries to see what Denton and UTA are doing.

“It is a different concept that we think will become more commonplace in the future,” said Denton Solid Waste and Recycling General Manager Vance Kemler.

The old concept meant burying garbage and keeping water away from it. Dry landfills are good for keeping contamination from seeping into the ground water.

But, “The bad thing, all the material sitting there? it doesn’t decompose” said UTA professor Sahadat Hossain, director of the school’s Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability. “It’s just a dry tomb.”

And all the entombed garbage piles up in a hurry.

UTA researchers have bored into Denton landfills with garbage dating back to 1984. They found the material is in such good shape, Denton will begin digging up one-thousand tons of material a day for recycling.

Then the garbage dump can be refilled, this time making the trash intentionally wet.

“If you add water, the decomposition will be complete in 15 years,” Hossain said.

And the whole time it’s decomposing and shrinking it produces gas that can be turned into electricity. Once it’s decomposed, the remainder can be removed as compost leaving the space to be used again.

The idea of using a landfill as fuel for power has been an evolution over decades in the U-S. It will be a revolution in the countries of many of these students.

“In countries in transitions, they’re still, ‘That’s just waste’,” said Mioerag Zivancev a visiting Serbian student. “They don’t see that other side, there is also materials that can be used again and you can make energy from waste.”

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