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An industrial ecology approach to municipal solid waste management: II. Case studies for recovering energy from the organic fraction of MSW

Smith, R.L., Sengupta, D., Takkellapati, S., Lee, C.C.
Resources, Conservation & Recycling 2015 v.104 pp. 317-326
anaerobic digestion, case studies, economics, electricity, emissions, energy, energy recovery, ethanol, fermentation, gasification, industrial ecology, municipal solid waste, symbiosis
The organic fraction of municipal solid waste provides abundant opportunities for industrial ecology-based symbiotic use. Energy production, economics, and environmental aspects are analyzed for four alternatives based on different technologies: incineration with energy recovery, gasification, anaerobic digestion, and fermentation. In these cases electricity and ethanol are the products considered, but other products and attempts at symbiosis can be made. The four technologies are in various states of commercial development. To highlight their relative complexities some adjustable parameters which are important for the operability of each process are discussed. While these technologies need to be considered for specific locations and circumstances, generalized economic and environmental information suggests relative comparisons for newly conceptualized processes. The results of industrial ecology-based analysis suggest that anaerobic digestion may improve seven emission categories, while fermentation, gasification, and incineration successively improve fewer emissions. A conceptual level analysis indicates that gasification, anaerobic digestion, and fermentation alternatives lead to positive economic results. In each case the alternatives and their assumptions need further analysis for any particular community.