(150d) Evaluation of the Potential of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) As a Source for Renewable Fuels and Chemicals in Mexico
The increasing amount of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is generating several problems due to the limiting capacity of landfills and the public health issues associated with its storage. In Mexico, only 4.8 % of the waste is recycled, therefore there is a huge quantity available for reuse. Among the options that are currently under study is the use of MSW for the production of alternative fuels and chemicals by means of thermochemical conversion. This procedure uses high temperatures to produce a bio-oil that can be converted into fuel or chemical intermediates. However, before proposing the use of a new technology or feedstock it is important to evaluate if its contribution will be significant to achieve the production goals. Hence, the purpose of the current work is to determine if MSW is a suitable feedstock to fulfill a meaningful portion of Mexico’s fuel or intermediate chemical demands. In order to accomplish this objective, a resource assessment is being performed to obtain the amount of MSW available for further processing, by means of literature review and computing of dry basis and post-recycle quantities. Then the alternative fuels and chemicals production capacity are being estimated by using reported yields from the literature. This estimated production will then be compared with Mexico’s demand on jet-fuel, diesel and motor gasoline. To evaluate the environmental impact of this technology and MSW feedstock, a limited life cycle assessment (LCA) is being performed considering greenhouse gas emissions and fossil energy demand. The results are going to be compared with the LCA of fossil fuels production. As an example of one preliminary result, the national amount of MSW in Mexico suitable for further pyrolysis processing in a dry and post-recycle basis has been estimated to be 24,082,553 Metric Tons/year from which 46.72% pertains to waste that can be converted by thermochemical conversion. Preliminary results also indicate that using a range of possible conversion yields, hydrocarbon drop-in biofuels produced through pyrolysis and catalytic upgrading of MSW feedstock has the potential to satisfy between 2-4% of current fossil transportation fuel consumption in Mexico. An added benefit is the diversion of MSW from landfills where significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions occurs from anaerobic degradation of MSW.
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