The Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) - the voluntary initiative of the carpet industry and government to reduce the amount of carpet burdening our nation's landfills - received a boost when Congress appropriated a $300,000 grant for the study of carpet as an alternative fuel source for cement kilns.

The appropriations bill was approved in Congress and recently signed by President George W. Bush. Representative Nathan Deal (R-GA) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) helped spearhead the project as did Representative Dave Hobson (R-OH), who serves as chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

The study, to be funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, will be supported by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers through their research committee on Municipal and Industrial Waste (, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2004.

Currently, 4.7 billion pounds of carpet go into landfills annually across the U.S., with a BTU value of between 8,500-10,000 per pound. It has been estimated that by using 65 percent of all spent carpet as a fuel source, cement kilns can extract on an annual basis approximately 31.2 million million BTUs of energy. In addition to the energy savings, burning carpet can be cleaner and less expensive than burning coal. The nitrous oxide emissions from burning nylon carpet fiber have been shown to be negligible compared to the thermal oxidation of the combustion air that occurs at the very high flame temperatures of the kiln, according to CARE.

Carpet also contains calcium carbonate, an ingredient in cement that kiln operators otherwise have to buy.