Mixed fuels composed of household waste and waste wood Characterization, combustion behaviour and potential emissions

University dissertation from Umeå : Umeå University

Abstract:    Incineration with energy recovery is the main disposal strategy for waste that cannot be reused or recycled, and a well-established source of energy in Europe, especially in Sweden where 2.2 Mtonnes of waste including domestic and imported municipal solid waste (MSW) and waste wood (WW) were combusted during 2015. However, owing to its inherent heterogeneous composition, inclusion of such waste in Waste-to-energy (WtE) technologies is challenging. These heterogeneities may lead to operationally-related issues in the WtE facilities and contribute to toxic emissions, which can be reduced by waste pre-treatment technologies.   This thesis examines the variations in the composition of MSW and WW streams used as a fuel supply in WtE facilities after undergoing waste pre-treatment technologies, and the effect of fuel composition on its combustion behaviour and formation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs). The overall objective is to contribute to a more thorough understanding of the selection of waste pre-treatment technologies to mitigate harmful emissions into the atmosphere when waste fuels are combusted in WtE facilities.   This thesis describes the high variability of contaminants in domestic and imported WW and suggests adaptation of WW pre-treatment techniques to produce fuels with a low potential for generating pollutants. A comparison of mechanical solid waste pre-treatments revealed that screening and shredding is more efficient than extrusion for reducing emissions of pollutants such as PCDDs and PCDFs in combustion. The evaluation of the combustion behaviour of MSW-based fuels showed a three-stage oxidative decomposition, and an acceleration of the decomposition of the MSW compared to the lignocellulosic materials, which may be attributed to the presence of food waste and plastics in the MSW. Combustion tests of fuel blends containing WW and MSW-based fuels with different food waste content suggested that WW, not food waste content, is the key factor for the formation of PCDDs, PCDFs, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), benzenes (PCBzs) and phenols (PCPhs). Torrefaction may be a suitable technology for improving the properties of waste as a fuel e.g. due to its low PCDD and PCDF emissions.