Economic screening of renewable energy technologies: Incineration, anaerobic digestion, and biodiesel as applied to waste water scum

Erik Anderson, Min Addy, Huan Ma, Paul Chen, Roger Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the U.S., the total amount of municipal solid waste is continuously rising each year. Millions of tons of solid waste and scum are produced annually that require safe and environmentally sound disposal. The availability of a zero-cost energy source like municipal waste scum is ideal for several types of renewable energy technologies. However, the way the energy is produced, distributed and valued also contributes to the overall process sustainability. An economic screening method was developed to compare the potential energy and economic value of three waste-to-energy technologies; incineration, anaerobic digestion, and biodiesel. A St. Paul, MN wastewater treatment facility producing 3175 “wet” kilograms of scum per day was used as a basis of the comparison. After applying all theoretically available subsidies, scum to biodiesel was shown to have the greatest economic potential, valued between $491,949 and $610,624/year. The incineration of scum yielded the greatest reclaimed energy potential at 29 billion kilojoules/year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-209
Number of pages8
JournalBioresource Technology
Volume222
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Keywords

  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biodiesel
  • Economics
  • Incineration
  • Scum
  • Wastewater treatment

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