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Waste Manag. 2015 Jan;35:283-92. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2014.09.031. Epub 2014 Nov 1.

Processing and properties of a solid energy fuel from municipal solid waste (MSW) and recycled plastics.

Author information

1
Department of Plastics Engineering, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854, USA. Electronic address: Jeongin_gug@student.uml.edu.
2
Department of Plastics Engineering, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854, USA. Electronic address: david_cacciola@student.uml.edu.
3
Department of Plastics Engineering, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854, USA. Electronic address: Margaret_sobkowiczkline@uml.edu.

Abstract

Diversion of waste streams such as plastics, woods, papers and other solid trash from municipal landfills and extraction of useful materials from landfills is an area of increasing interest especially in densely populated areas. One promising technology for recycling municipal solid waste (MSW) is to burn the high-energy-content components in standard coal power plant. This research aims to reform wastes into briquettes that are compatible with typical coal combustion processes. In order to comply with the standards of coal-fired power plants, the feedstock must be mechanically robust, free of hazardous contaminants, and moisture resistant, while retaining high fuel value. This study aims to investigate the effects of processing conditions and added recyclable plastics on the properties of MSW solid fuels. A well-sorted waste stream high in paper and fiber content was combined with controlled levels of recyclable plastics PE, PP, PET and PS and formed into briquettes using a compression molding technique. The effect of added plastics and moisture content on binding attraction and energy efficiency were investigated. The stability of the briquettes to moisture exposure, the fuel composition by proximate analysis, briquette mechanical strength, and burning efficiency were evaluated. It was found that high processing temperature ensures better properties of the product addition of milled mixed plastic waste leads to better encapsulation as well as to greater calorific value. Also some moisture removal (but not complete) improves the compacting process and results in higher heating value. Analysis of the post-processing water uptake and compressive strength showed a correlation between density and stability to both mechanical stress and humid environment. Proximate analysis indicated heating values comparable to coal. The results showed that mechanical and moisture uptake stability were improved when the moisture and air contents were optimized. Moreover, the briquette sample composition was similar to biomass fuels but had significant advantages due to addition of waste plastics that have high energy content compared to other waste types. Addition of PP and HDPE presented better benefits than addition of PET due to lower softening temperature and lower oxygen content. It should be noted that while harmful emissions such as dioxins, furans and mercury can result from burning plastics, WTE facilities have been able to control these emissions to meet US EPA standards. This research provides a drop-in coal replacement that reduces demand on landfill space and replaces a significant fraction of fossil-derived fuel with a renewable alternative.

KEYWORDS:

Briquette; MSW; Plastics recycling; Refuse-derived fuel

PMID:
25453320
DOI:
10.1016/j.wasman.2014.09.031
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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