Waste Composition Studies in Support of Fuel Pellet Production
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Geosyntec provides a wide range of technical services associated with determining the feasibility of emerging technologies, including field studies, literature reviews, and financial feasibility reviews associated with materials recovery from waste streams.

In an effort to find a better way to manage the ever-increasing solid waste burden of the developed world and to turn municipal solid waste from an expense into a commodity, a national solid waste management company has started a program to pelletize waste into an alternative fuel source of consistent quality. Geosyntec was contracted to help characterize the incoming and outgoing waste at several landfills, transfer stations, and material recovery facilities (MRFs) as potential feedstock for fuel pellet production. This information is needed to inform where fuel pellet production plants can be most feasibly located. Because waste characterization studies can be time and labor intensive, Geosyntec developed a hybrid visual/manual waste characterization plan targeted to rapidly and efficiently provide the client with relevant information regarding the calorific value of available waste streams.

Geosyntec's Scope of Services

Geosyntec performed waste characterization studies to identify quantities of different materials available for use in the production of waste-derived fuel pellets. These studies were performed at seven locations in California, Illinois, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In total, over 12 person-weeks of targeted field work were provided. Waste from incoming trucks was visually assessed for material composition by volume and the trucks were divided into different incoming categories. Based on review of waste delivery schedules and facility operation logs, selected loads of both incoming and outgoing waste were manually sorted and tested to determined material bulk specific weight, material composition by weight, and moisture content. Using the fact that many trucks deliver consistent waste loads, Geosyntec was able to take short-term field data and combine it with long-term scale house records to produce an accurate estimation of the quantities of different materials that could be diverted for fuel pellet production at each facility investigated.

Notable Accomplishments

Using a focused investigation guided by our understanding of waste collection systems and waste processing operations, Geosyntec was able to quickly and cost-effectively help our client identify the quantity and average calorific values of different materials potentially available as fuel pellet feedstock at several waste processing and disposal facilities. This served the client in providing the information needed to evaluate different sites as regional candidates for fuel pellet production.

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Project Summary

  • Location: Confidential
  • Client: Confidential
  • Project Practice Areas: Waste Management
  • Type of Facility: Waste transfer and disposal facilities
  • Services Provided: Hybrid visual/manual field sorting; Targeted waste composition analysis; Estimation of waste feedstock availability; Assessment of waste feedstock calorific value
  • Type of Work: Waste composition study
  • Governing Regulation: Local and Federal