Fire has always been thought to have aided in the evolution of human culture and language. An incinerator has been known by many different names, ...

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Fire has always been thought to have aided in the evolution of human culture and language. An incinerator has been known by many different names, but the basic principle is the same - setting fire to waste.


Burning has always been looked at as a means of removing infection ever since fire was known to man. After the Battle of Sedan in 1870, local Belgian villagers were afflicted by epidemics of diseases. The source was many animals and humans buried in mass graves. Of course, no incinerators were available then, but the bodies were exhumed, burnt and the residue of bones (< 25% of the original matter) was reburied and there was no further trouble for the locals.


Cremation has been a preferred method of conducting funerals in many cultures. For example, in Hinduism, ‘last rites' are considered one of life's 16 rituals. Cremation is believed to allow the soul to travel to the next world or form a new life.


Even during outbreaks of plague, burning was the only sure shot method to contain transmission of diseases.


The first incinerators - Trash washing up on beaches, waste being indiscriminately dumped in neighbourhoods, these were conditions that forced people to look at alternatives. People were

overwhelmed by rats, foul smell and indiscriminate open burning. One of the first incinerators was started in Manhattan, New York City in the year 1905. It was made of one large brick chamber and generated power from steam produced by the waste heat. What was started as a means to reduce the volume of waste or to rid material of infection, resulted in over 200 waste burners in the US upto around 1960. No thought was given to the resulting emissions. Many apartment complexes particularly in North America also used to have backyard incinerators where indiscriminate incineration of all material would take place. This lead to uncontrolled air emissions and caused many to view incineration as a polluting technology.


Today, around 100,000 tonnes of municipal waste is incinerated in the United States every day. Tens of millions of barrels of oil would be needed to produce the equivalent energy that is recovered from the incineration of this waste. The environmental impact of producing just one barrel of oil is well known. Utilising existing sources of energy is a good way to bring down the load on oil fields.


Incinerators that comply with current regulations and technology in place today ensure that incineration is one of the cleanest methods of waste disposal.



“The incinerator project included a high level of Quality Assurance, Third Party Inspection and comprehensive documentation which was adhered to.” – HOD (CPP & Utilities), Reliance Industries Limited.


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