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Techno-economic analysis of a gasification system using refuse-derived fuel from municipal solid waste
The search for alternatives to fossil fuel is necessary with a view to reducing the negative environmental impact of fossil fuel and most importantly, to exploit an affordable and secured fuel source. This study investigated the viability of municipal solid waste gasification for a fuel cell system. Potential solid fuels obtained from the study in the form of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) had high heating value (HHV) between 18.17 MJ/Kg - 28.91 MJ/Kg with energy density increased from 4142.07 MJ/m3 to 10735.80 MJ/m3. The molecular formulas of RDF derived from Ladies Smith drop-off site, Woodstock drop-off site and an average molecular formula of all thirteen municipal solid waste (MSW) disposal facilities were CH1.43O1.02, CH1.49O1.19, and CH1.50O0.86 respectively. The comparative ratios of C/H were in the range of 7.11 to 8.90. The Thermo Gravimetric Analysis showed that the dehydration, thermal decompositions, char combustions were involved in the production of gaseous products but flaming pyrolysis stage was when most tar was converted to syngas mixture. The simulation of RDF gasification allowed a prediction of the RDF gasification behaviour under various operating parameters in an air-blown downdraft gasifier. Optimum SFR (steam flowrate) values for RDF1, RDF2 and RDF3 were determined to be within these values 2.80, 2.50 and 3.50 and Optimum ER values for RDF1, RDF2 and RDF3 were also determined to be within these values 0.15, 0.04 and 0.08. These conditions produced the desired high molar ratio of H2/CO yield in the syngas mixture in the product stream. The molar ratios of H2/CO yield in the syngas mixture in the product stream for all the RDFs were between 18.81 and 20.16. The values of H2/CO satisfy the requirement for fuel cell application. The highest concentration of heavy metal was observed for Al, Fe, Zn and Cr, namely 16627.77 mg/Kg at Coastal Park (CP), 17232.37 mg/Kg at Killarney (KL), 235.01 mg/Kg at Tygerdal (TG), and 564.87 mg/Kg at Kraaifontein (KF) respectively. The results of quantitative economic evaluation measurements were a net return (NR) of $0.20 million, a rate of return on investment (ROI) of 27.88 %, payback time (PBP) of 2.30 years, a net present value (NPV) of $1.11 million and a discounted cash flow rate of return (DCFROR) of 24.80 % and 28.20 % respectively. The results of the economic evaluations revealed that some findings of the economic benefits of this system would be viable if costs of handling MSW were further quantified into the costs analysis. The viability of the costs could depend on government responsibility to accept costs of handling MSW.