August 29, 2017

MSc Engineering Management - “Waste and Culture” – A very hot excursion

The participants in front of the Hundertwasser building

During our Engineering Management master program, we had the opportunity of visiting the Spittelau facility of Wien Energie on July 18,2017, where apart from thermal waste incineration, also district heating (more than 60,000 households in Vienna in a year are heated) and cooling are offered to the city.

Thermal waste treatment plays an important role today. The whole procedure includes 3 major steps.

Step 1- try to avoid waste as much as possible. This is done by the help of the people of Vienna who are tasked with separating their recyclable waste and using the more than 2000 places in Vienna were special recycling bins can be located.

Step 2- the workers of the facility must try to take out of the collected waste big pieces not possible to be put in the furnaces. At this point, it is not possible to separate recyclable material such as paper and glass, so this is why step 1 is so important.

Step 3 - includes the burning of the waste, with the heat that is produced being used for district heating and cooling.

Wien Energie’s waste incineration plants process around 900,000 tons of waste, special waste and sewage sludge every year. The heating this produces (around 1.5 million megawatt hours per year) is fed into the district heating network all year round. Recently Wien Energie started offering to specific “clients” like the City Hall and the largest hospital with district cooling, using the heat produced and special equipment like absorption chillers, compression chiller, centrifugal chiller and heat exchanger.
The Spittelau plant was built between 1969 and 1971.  In 1987 a fire destroyed major sections of the waste incineration plant. Instead of tearing down the plant, it was rebuilt on the same site, designed by the very famous Austrian environmentalist, nature lover and artist/architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

For visitors, it is an impressive mixture of eco-friendly ways of treating waste & art, as the architecture of the plant itself is art.

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