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Waste Manag. 2012 Mar;32(3):372-81. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2011.10.034. Epub 2011 Nov 26.

Revisiting the elemental composition and the calorific value of the organic fraction of municipal solid wastes.

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Laboratory of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, Department of Environmental Engineering, Democritus University of Thrace, Xanthi 671 00, Greece.


In this work, the elemental content (C, N, H, S, O), the organic matter content and the calorific value of various organic components that are commonly found in the municipal solid waste stream were measured. The objective of this work was to develop an empirical equation to describe the calorific value of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste as a function of its elemental composition. The MSW components were grouped into paper wastes, food wastes, yard wastes and plastics. Sample sizes ranged from 0.2 to 0.5 kg. In addition to the above individual components, commingled municipal solid wastes were sampled from a bio-drying facility located in Crete (sample sizes ranged from 8 to 15 kg) and were analyzed for the same parameters. Based on the results of this work, an improved empirical model was developed that revealed that carbon, hydrogen and oxygen were the only statistically significant predictors of calorific value. Total organic carbon was statistically similar to total carbon for most materials in this work. The carbon to organic matter ratio of 26 municipal solid waste substrates and of 18 organic composts varied from 0.40 to 0.99. An approximate chemical empirical formula calculated for the organic fraction of commingled municipal solid wastes was C(32)NH(55)O(16).

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