Life cycle assessment of pyrolysis, gasification and incineration waste-to-energy technologies: theoretical analysis and case study of commercial plants

Abstract : Municipal solid waste (MSW) pyrolysis and gasification are in development, stimulated by a more sustainable waste-to-energy (WtE) option. Since comprehensive comparisons of the existing WtE technologies are fairly rare, this study aims to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) using two sets of data: theoretical analysis, and case studies of large-scale commercial plants. Seven systems involving thermal conversion (pyrolysis, gasification, incineration) and energy utilization (steam cycle, gas turbine/combined cycle, internal combustion engine) are modeled. Theoretical analysis results show that pyrolysis and gasification, in particular coupled with a gas turbine/combined cycle, have the potential to lessen the environmental loadings. The benefits derive from an improved energy efficiency leading to less fossil-based energy consumption, and the reduced process emissions by syngas combustion. Comparison among the four operating plants (incineration, pyrolysis, gasification, gasification-melting) confirms a preferable performance of the gasification plant attributed to syngas cleaning. The modern incineration is superior over pyrolysis and gasification-melting at present, due to the effectiveness of modern flue gas cleaning, use of combined heat and power (CHP) cycle, and ash recycling. The sensitivity analysis highlights a crucial role of the plant efficiency and pyrolysis char land utilization. The study indicates that the heterogeneity of MSW and syngas purification technologies are the most relevant impediments for the current pyrolysis/gasification-based WtE. Potential development should incorporate into all process aspects to boost the energy efficiency, improve incoming waste quality, and achieve efficient residues management.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 1:08:46 AM
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Jun Dong, Yuanjun Tang, Ange Nzihou, Yong Chi, Elsa Weiss-Hortala, et al.. Life cycle assessment of pyrolysis, gasification and incineration waste-to-energy technologies: theoretical analysis and case study of commercial plants. Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2018, 626, pp.744-753. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.01.151⟩. ⟨hal-01712379v2⟩

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