U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Pyrolysis technologies for municipal solid waste: A review

Dezhen Chen, Lijie Yin, Huan Wang, Pinjing He
Waste management 2014 v.34 pp. 2466-2486
ammonia, emissions, energy, environmental impact, fuels, heat, heavy metals, hydrochloric acid, municipal solid waste, polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans, pyrolysis, sulfur dioxide, temperature, waste management
Pyrolysis has been examined as an attractive alternative to incineration for municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal that allows energy and resource recovery; however, it has seldom been applied independently with the output of pyrolysis products as end products. This review addresses the state-of-the-art of MSW pyrolysis in regards to its technologies and reactors, products and environmental impacts. In this review, first, the influence of important operating parameters such as final temperature, heating rate (HR) and residence time in the reaction zone on the pyrolysis behaviours and products is reviewed; then the pyrolysis technologies and reactors adopted in literatures and scale-up plants are evaluated. Third, the yields and main properties of the pyrolytic products from individual MSW components, refuse-derived fuel (RDF) made from MSW, and MSW are summarised. In the fourth section, in addition to emissions from pyrolysis processes, such as HCl, SO2 and NH3, contaminants in the products, including PCDD/F and heavy metals, are also reviewed, and available measures for improving the environmental impacts of pyrolysis are surveyed. It can be concluded that the single pyrolysis process is an effective waste-to-energy convertor but is not a guaranteed clean solution for MSW disposal. Based on this information, the prospects of applying pyrolysis technologies to dealing with MSW are evaluated and suggested.