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Research and Development

Cleaner Energy through Innovation

As a renewable energy world leader, Covanta remains focused on researching advanced technologies aimed at improving our environmental performance, increasing our plant operating and cost efficiencies, and growing our business. Our current research and development strategy focuses on several major areas, as follows:

• developing enhanced emission control systems to further drive down plant emissions
• designing new systems to improve plant efficiency, operating performance, ash management, and economic competitiveness
• developing new alternative conversion processes for recovering energy and value from waste
• monitoring and evaluating new technology advancements that may have a potential impact on our EfW business

Leading the Way

Covanta Energy is always focused on researching and developing new technologies that enhance what we do.In 2008, Covanta focused on the reduction of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions at both existing and new EfW facilities. We reviewed the U.S. EPA’s annual inventory of emissions from all U.S. EfW facilities between 1990 and 2005 and discovered that while emissions of mercury, cadmium, and lead dropped by nearly 95 percent, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions dropped only 24 percent. It was apparent to us that there was room for progress. The reduction of NOx from 1990 to 2005 was adequate for compliance purposes, but inadequate for our goal of a significant total reduction beyond compliance.

In 2007, Covanta developed a novel Low-NOx combustion technology that enables us to reduce NOx to the lowest concentration in the North American EfW industry. Over the last six years, Covanta has installed this new Low-NOx process in more than twenty units throughout North America.

An independent peer-reviewed assessment concluded that typical lifecycle NOx emissions from EfW were already lower than typical coal, oil and natural gas facilities per unit of electrical generation. Implementation of our advanced Low-NOx technology further reduces lifecycle NOx emissions of EfW relative to traditional generation.


For the past 25 years, Covanta has led in the development of greener technologies for processing post-recycled municipal solid waste (MSW) to generate clean, renewable energy. Covanta is currently marketing a first-of-its-kind gasification technology, CLEERGAS® or Covanta Low Emission Energy Recovery Gasification. Covanta’s CLEERGAS system converts unprocessed, post-recycled MSW into a synthesis gas, or syngas, which is then processed for energy recovery with very low emissions. Click here to learn more about our low emission energy recovery gasification process.