Material flow and sustainability analyses of biorefining of municipal solid waste

Jhuma Sadhukhan, Elias Martinez-Hernandez

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This paper presents material flow and sustainability analyses of novel mechanical biological chemical treatment system for complete valorization of municipal solid waste (MSW). It integrates material recovery facility (MRF); pulping, chemical conversion; effluent treatment plant (ETP), anaerobic digestion (AD); and combined heat and power (CHP) systems producing end products: recyclables (24.9% by mass of MSW), metals (2.7%), fibre (1.5%); levulinic acid (7.4%); recyclable water (14.7%), fertiliser (8.3%); and electricity (0.126 MWh/t MSW), respectively. Refuse derived fuel (RDF) and non-recyclable other waste, char and biogas from MRF, chemical conversion and AD systems, respectively, are energy recovered in the CHP system. Levulinic acid gives profitability independent of subsidies; MSW priced at 50 Euro/t gives a margin of 204 Euro/t. Global warming potential savings are 2.4 and 1.3 kg CO2 equivalent per kg of levulinic acid and fertiliser, and 0.17 kg CO2 equivalent per MJ of grid electricity offset, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-146
JournalBioresource Technology
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2017


  • biomass
  • Biorefineries
  • Municipal solid waste management
  • levulinic acid
  • Biofuels


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