Interactive analysis of waste recycling and energy recovery program in a small-scale incinerator

Jeng Chung Chen, Wei Hsin Chen, Ni Bin Chang, Eric Davila, Cheng Hsien Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


Conflicting goals affecting solid waste management are explored in this paper to find the best implementation of resource recovery with a small-scale waste-to-energy process. Recycling paper and plastic material often leaves a shortage of thermal energy to support incineration that forces operators to supplement the process with auxiliary fuels. Although there are considerable profits to be made from material recovery, the increase of fuel usage causes conflict given that it is cost prohibitive. A series of trials performed on a small-scale 1.5-t/day incineration plant with a cyclone heat recovery system found that material recycling can impede performance. Experimental results are expressed as empirical regression formulas with regard to combustion temperature, energy transfer, and heat recovery. Process optimization is possible if the waste moisture content remains <30%. To test the robustness of the optimization analysis, a series of sensitivity analyses clarify the extent of material recycling needed with regard to plastic, paper, and metal. The experiments also test whether the moisture in the waste would decrease when recycling paper because of its exceptional capacity to absorb moisture. Results show that recycling paper is strongly recommended when the moisture content is >20%, whereas plastic recycling is not necessary at that moisture condition. Notably, plastic recovery reduces the heat needed to vaporize the water content of the solid waste, thus it is recommended only when the moisture content is <10%. For above-normal incineration temperatures, plastic recycling is encouraged, because it removes excess energy. Metal is confirmed as an overall priority in material recycling regardless of the moisture content of the incoming waste.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1356-1366
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Sep

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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