Integration of thermochemical processes with existing waste management industries to enhance biomethane production

Detta är en avhandling från Västerås : Mälardalen University

Sammanfattning: In most waste management industries, waste is separated into different fractions, each of which is treated with suitable processes. Established technologies such as waste combustion for combined heat and power (CHP) production and biomethane production through anaerobic digestion (AD) of biodegradable waste work fine as standalone processes. However, specific issues are associated with these established standalone waste-to-energy (WtE) processes. For example, traditional CHP plants have high overall energy efficiencies, but lower electrical efficiencies, and their heat outputs are dependent on local demand and seasonal variations. Similarly, biodegradable waste typically sent for AD contains lignocellulosic or green waste. Due to the lower biodegradability of lignocellulosic waste, only a proportion is sent for digestion, while the rest is incinerated, increasing transportation costs. Increased benefits from the perspective of energy and economics can be achieved by integrating new WtE processes with existing technologies. This thesis aims to design energy-efficient and profitable biorefineries by integrating existing waste management facilities with the thermochemical treatment of waste. A systems analysis of two process integration concepts has been studied through modelling and simulation. The first analysis is of the process integration of gasification with existing CHP plants, and the second is the process integration of pyrolysis with an existing AD plant. For integration of gasification with a CHP plant, reasonable operational limits of the CHP plant have been assessed and compared by integrating three types of gasifier, and the most technically and economically integrated processes have been identified. In the case of integration of pyrolysis with AD, a new process configuration is presented that couples the AD of biodegradable waste with the pyrolysis of lignocellulosic waste. The biochar obtained from pyrolysis is added to a digester as an adsorbent to increase the biomethane production. In addition, the vapors produced by the pyrolysis process are converted to biomethane. Two different conversion processes are compared to convert pyrolysis vapors to biomethane, catalytic methanation and biomethanation.  The results demonstrate that process integration can contribute to reducing the cost of biomethane production through integration of gasification and pyrolysis with CHP and AD, respectively. The process integration can also utilize infrastructure and products from existing industries and increase the overall process efficiencies. Of the gasifiers studied, the dual fluidized bed gasifier produces more biomethane than the circulating bed and entrained flow gasifiers when retrofitted with an existing CHP plant with up to 85% efficiency. The CHP–gasification integration is capable of producing more biomethane during low heat demand seasons without disturbing the operation of the CHP operation. A gasifier with a flexible capacity can be integrated with the CHP to produce biomethane without affecting the heat production of the CHP. From an economic perspective, the dual-bed gasifier requires lower capital investment and is therefore more profitable, because it requires less equipment than the circulating fluidized and entrained flow gasifiers. The integration of pyrolysis with the AD process can almost double biomethane production comparison with standalone AD process, increasing efficiency to 67%. The integration is an attractive investment when catalytic methanation of syngas is used rather than biomethanation of syngas. The catalytic methanation route has an economic rate of return of 16%, with a six-year payback period. The main conclusion drawn from this thesis is that production of biomethane can be enhanced through process integration of gasification with the CHP plant and of pyrolysis with AD. However, the increase in biomethane production also increases the demand for waste at the integrated biorefinery. Hence, the capacity of the gasifier and pyrolysis process will be decisive in determining the level of integration of the biorefineries.