Waste-to-Energy Projects in India – Technical Issues

For self-sustaining combustion, there should be a heat content of at least 2500 kcal/kg (about 5000 Btu/lb). Usually below 1500 kcal/kg, it is not recommended for combustion. Indian MSW is infamous for its low heat content (770 to 1000 kcal/kg, on dry basis, sometimes as low as 600 kcal/kg), high moisture content (30 to 55 % by weight) and high inert contents (30 to 50 % by weight). It is a fact that Indian MSW is not directly suitable for incineration. Waste preparation is a must for incinerating Indian MSW. Waste should be dried; inerts removed and heat content improved to about 2500 kcal/kg.

In order to determine whether a thermal processing project is a feasible waste management alternative for any city, the following questions should be addressed:

  • Is source-segregation practiced in the target area?
  • Is the thermochemical technology approved by the MNRE and the CPCB?
  • Is there a buyer for the energy (electricity/CHP) produced by the energy recovery facility?
  • Is there strong political and public support for a WTE facility?
  • Are there enough funds to establish state-of-the-art small modular gasification / pyrolysis plant?

Elements of successful Advanced Thermal WTE Project

  • Waste segregation
  • Waste receiving and storage capability
  • Waste preparation plant
  • Gasification/pyrolysis process
  • Syngas treatment process
  • CHP / Power generation
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