Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Wang, Lijun

Abstract

Municipal solid waste (MSW) is a potential feedstock for producing transportation fuels because it is readily available using an existing collection/transportation infrastructure and fees are provided by the suppliers or government agencies to treat MSW. North Carolina with a population of 9.4 millions generates 3.629 million metric tons of MSW each year, which contains about 113,396,356 TJs of energy. The average moisture content of MSW samples is 44.3% on a wet basis. About 77% of the dry MSW mass is combustible components including paper, organics, textile and plastics. The average heating values of MSW were 9.7, 17.5, and 22.7 MJ/kg on a wet basis, dry basis and dry combustible basis, respectively. The MSW generated in North Carolina can produce 7.619 million barrels of crude bio-oil or around 4% of total petroleum consumption in North Carolina. MSW can be thermally pyrolyzed into bio-oil in the absence of oxygen or air at a temperature of 500oC or above. As bio-oil can be easily stored and transported, compared to bulky MSW, landfill gas and electricity, pyrolysis offers significant logistical and economic advantages over landfilling and other thermal conversion processes such as combustion and gasification. Crude bio-oils produced from the pyrolysis of MSW can be further refined to transportation fuels in existing petroleum refinery facilities. The objective of this research is to analyze the technical and economic feasibility of pyrolyzing MSW into liquid transportation fuels. A combined thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA) and differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) instrument, which can serve as a micro-scale pyrolysis reactor, was used to simultaneously determine the degradation characteristics of MSW during pyrolysis. An ASPEN Plus-based mathematical model was further developed to analyze the technical and economic feasibility of pyrolysing of MSW into liquid transportation fuels in fixed bed reactors at varying operating conditions.

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