Research & Reports

Investigating the feasibility of organic MSW processing by coking

The majority of the processing methods used produce mostly gaseous products and according to the technology underpinned by Russian scientists from Ekaterinburg and Tyumen in the journal Sustainability, co-coking of organic municipal solid waste (MSW) and tar oil refineries results in obtaining liquid resources.

In terms of boiling points, they correspond to the straight-run petroleum fractions (gasoline, diesel fraction and mazut). Therefore, these products can then be processed together with straight-run fractions, bringing them to the quality of commercial petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, boiler fuel and bitumen in standard refining processes. Thus, this method allows for significant savings in oil.

In addition, the implementation of such technology eliminates the need for building specialised waste recycling plants and makes it possible to use organic waste as an additive to the composition of raw materials at oil refineries, the resulting product being petroleum fluids.

“The process described does not require external energy costs, since the energy necessary for its implementation is generated by burning gas that is formed during the waste coking,” said professor Elena Magaril, co-author of the article and head of the Ural Federal University’s (UrFU) Department of Environmental Economics.

“In addition, the process does not produce environmental emissions, which means it fully complies with the principles of circular economy. In the future, the proposed method can be used for processing both household and industrial organic waste.”

Circular economy is seen as an essential element of the ongoing fourth industrial revolution, and is especially important, given that over the past four decades, the overall consumption of valuable resources has tripled.

“The phenomenon of a closed cycle economy requires interdisciplinary, comprehensive study and corresponding action,” Magaril said.

“It is necessary to speed up the solution of many tasks at the same time – construction of waste recycling plants, the introduction of efficient processing methods, the diversification of a number of industries, personnel training and a significant increase in environmental education and culture in society.

“In this regard, international scientific cooperation and the advanced development of knowledge and practical foreign experience in the field of waste management are becoming more important.”

The international research team of environmental experts suggests replacing manual separation of solid household waste with a mechanical one. As demonstrated in the article, the transfer to mechanical separation will lead to reduced risks for personnel (less contact with acute waste and equipment, sanitary hazards), as well as to economic benefits.