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Waste incineration and renewable energy to be focus of Thursdays at the U

| Linda Tollefsrud

A little bit of chemistry, a smidgen of physics, a pinch of biology and a healthy dose of environmental law: Waste incineration is the process of taking our refuse and transforming it into ash, gases and, often, a source of renewable energy.

Dr. Lauren Wentz

Dr. Lauren Wentz

Dr. Lauren Wentz, professor of biology at UW-Eau Claire – Barron County, will present “Something’s Burning: Waste Incineration” for the next Thursdays at the U lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – Barron County.

The presentation will be from 12:30-1:30 p.m. April 25 in the Blue Hills Lecture Hall in Ritzinger Hall and will be livestreamed at

Wentz will describe various types of waste incinerators and explain how they work, from collection of waste to steam generation and air pollution control mechanisms to final disposition of the burned material.

Along the way, attendees will learn how incinerators are regulated — and why — and what happens to your household waste if it goes to a solid waste incinerator instead of a landfill.

Wentz has developed and taught a course vetted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for the state’s solid waste combustor operators for the last five years. It is a 32-hour course mandated under Wisconsin and federal law.

She will share some of the tales told by participants in the course over the years and introduce the people who operate Barron County’s Waste to Energy Facility, located just south of Almena.

In addition to her role as instructor for the incinerator operator course, she teaches classes on environmental biology, plants and society, human biology, as well as anatomy and physiology.

The Thursdays at the U weekly series is free and open to the public thanks to support from the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation. Neither seating reservations nor parking permits are needed for in-person attendees.

Although in-person attendance is encouraged, most talks are livestreamed. They also are archived and can be watched later on the Thursdays at the U webpage.

The next lecture in the series will be May 2, with Andy Gaertner presenting “Who Am I? Researching Ancestry.”

For more information, call the campus at 715-788-6244 or email Dr. Linda Tollefsrud, the series organizer, at