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Bioresour Technol. 2016 Sep;215:131-143. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2016.04.030. Epub 2016 Apr 9.

Novel integrated mechanical biological chemical treatment (MBCT) systems for the production of levulinic acid from fraction of municipal solid waste: A comprehensive techno-economic analysis.

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Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK. Electronic address:
Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK.
Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PJ, UK.


This paper, for the first time, reports integrated conceptual MBCT/biorefinery systems for unlocking the value of organics in municipal solid waste (MSW) through the production of levulinic acid (LA by 5wt%) that increases the economic margin by 110-150%. After mechanical separation recovering recyclables, metals (iron, aluminium, copper) and refuse derived fuel (RDF), lignocelluloses from remaining MSW are extracted by supercritical-water for chemical valorisation, comprising hydrolysis in 2wt% dilute H2SO4 catalyst producing LA, furfural, formic acid (FA), via C5/C6 sugar extraction, in plug flow (210-230°C, 25bar, 12s) and continuous stirred tank (195-215°C, 14bar, 20min) reactors; char separation and LA extraction/purification by methyl isobutyl ketone solvent; acid/solvent and by-product recovery. The by-product and pulping effluents are anaerobically digested into biogas and fertiliser. Produced biogas (6.4MWh/t), RDF (5.4MWh/t), char (4.5MWh/t) are combusted, heat recovered into steam generation in boiler (efficiency: 80%); on-site heat/steam demand is met; balance of steam is expanded into electricity in steam turbines (efficiency: 35%).


Biorefinery process simulation in Aspen Plus©; Circular economy; Combined heat and power (CHP); Metal and energy and material resource recovery from MSW; Municipal solid waste management; Refuse derived fuel (RDF) and compost like output (CLO); Value analysis and discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis

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