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Factors influencing the life cycle burdens of the recovery of energy from residual municipal waste

Burnley, Stephen; Coleman, Terry and Peirce, Adam (2015). Factors influencing the life cycle burdens of the recovery of energy from residual municipal waste. Waste Management, 39 pp. 295–304.

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A life cycle assessment was carried out to assess a selection of the factors influencing the environmental impacts and benefits of incinerating the fraction of municipal waste remaining after source-separation for reuse, recycling, composting or anaerobic digestion. The factors investigated were the extent of any metal and aggregate recovery from the bottom ash, the thermal efficiency of the process, and the conventional fuel for electricity generation displaced by the power generated. The results demonstrate that incineration has significant advantages over landfill with lower impacts from climate change, resource depletion, acidification, eutrophication human toxicity and aquatic ecotoxicity. To maximise the benefits of energy recovery, metals, particularly aluminium, should be reclaimed from the residual bottom ash and the energy recovery stage of the process should be as efficient as possible. The overall environmental benefits/burdens of energy from waste also strongly depend on the source of the power displaced by the energy from waste, with coal giving the greatest benefits and combined cycle turbines fuelled by natural gas the lowest of those considered. Regardless of the conventional power displaced incineration presents a lower environmental burden than landfill.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN: 0956-053X
Keywords: municipal waste; incineration; energy from waste; life cycle assessment; efficiency; metal recovery
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 42479
Depositing User: Stephen Burnley
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2015 09:35
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2018 22:53
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