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Thermo-catalytic reforming of municipal solid waste

: Ouadi, Miloud; Jäger, Nils; Greenhalf, Charles; Conti, Roberto; Hornung, Andreas


Waste management 68 (2017), pp.198-206
ISSN: 0956-053X
ISSN: 1879-2456
Journal Article
Fraunhofer UMSICHT Sulzbach-Rosenberg ()
pyrolysis; energy; biofuel; hydrogen; waste

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) refers to a heterogeneous mixture composed of plastics, paper, metal, food and other miscellaneous items. Local authorities commonly dispose of this waste by either landfill or incineration which are both unsustainable practices. Disposing of organic wastes via these routes is also becoming increasingly expensive due to rising landfill taxes and transport costs. The Thermo-Catalytic Reforming (TCR®) process, is a proposed valorisation route to transform organic wastes and residues, such as MSW, into sustainable energy vectors including (H2 rich synthesis gas, liquid bio-oil and solid char). The aim herein, was to investigate the conversion of the organic fraction of MSW into fuels and chemicals utilising the TCR technology in a 2 kg/h continuous pilot scale reactor. Findings show that MSW was successfully processed with the TCR after carrying out a feedstock pre-treatment step. Approximately, 25 wt.% of the feedstock was converted into phase separated liquids, composed of 19 wt.% aqueous phase and 6 wt.% organic phase bio-oil. The analysis of the bio-oil fraction revealed physical and chemical fuel properties, higher heating value (HHV) of 38 MJ/kg, oxygen content <7 wt.% and water content <4 wt.%. Due to the bio-oil’s chemical and physical properties, the bio-oil was found to be directly miscible with fossil diesel when blended at a volume ratio of 50:50. The mass balance closure was 44 wt.% synthesis gas, with a H2 content of 36 vol% and HHV of 17.23 MJ/Nm3, and 31 wt.% char with a HHV of 17 MJ/kg. The production of high quantities of H2 gas and highly de-oxygenated organic liquids makes downstream hydrogen separation and subsequent hydro-deoxygenation of the produced bio-oil a promising upgrading step to achieve drop-in transportation fuels from MSW.