Hydrogasification turns MSW into H2, CO2, H2O, and minerals. H2 goes to NH3 (carbon free fuel). All marketable, sequester CO2, no landfills.
Hydrogasification is a thermochemical process that converts the carbon in municipal solid waste (MSW) into carbon dioxide while producing hydrogen, clean water and minerals. In addition to the collection of materials in MSW, hydrogasification can process sewage sludge, petroleum wastes, plastics, tires, food wastes, yard and other plant wastes, essentially any other waste material containing organic carbon substances.The hydrogen is then converted into anhydrous ammonia, which can be used as a carbon free fuel, fertilizer, or chemical feed stock. The carbon dioxide can be sequestered, sold, or used for the production of carbonate/bicarbonate salts of ammonia. The now concentrated minerals can be used as an aggregate for construction, or, treated as an ore for the extraction of valuable material originally found in the MSW. The clean water can be reused for the initial part of the hydrogasification, or, where clean water is needed, diverted to other uses.
The process uses the energy contained in the MSW, or other carbon based waste, to drive the steam mediated thermochemical process. Twenty-one percent of the hydrogen produced is used to drive the hydrogasification process leaving the remainder to be used in the chemical synthesis of ammonia, producing the energy for the ammonia synthesis, other facilities needs, or net production of electricity. Ammonia once produced can be stored as a liquid at a reasonable pressure in a 250 psi rated vessel and used on demand.
Uses for ammonia as a fuel only, include as a drop-in substitute for diesel in internal combustion engines for transportation, or to generate electricity. Alternatively, ammonia can be considered as a hydrogen storage chemical from which free hydrogen can be extracted through a catalytic splitting of the molecule. Once the hydrogen is freed, it can be used in a fuel cell to produce electricity. Since all CO2 produce when making the NH3 is captured, the NH3 is a totally carbon free fuel.
Category of the action
Reducing emissions from waste management
What actions do you propose?
This proposal will have little effect on the everyday activities of the general population, but it may even make some of these activities more efficient since sorting of waste may not need to be as intensive. Waste management operations may be the most highly effected at the disposal level.
The proposal can be integrated in a stepwise fashion. The physical actions to be adopted that will affect climate change are:
- The initial step will be to stop the addition of carbon based waste to a landfill by placing a hydrogasification unit at the landfill site. Since all carbon based waste will be processed through hydrogasification, no new material capable of releasing greenhouse gasses will be introduced into the site. This will not interfere with the systems already in place for collection and disposal of MSW and other carbon based wastes, so integration of the process would have a minimal effect on the efficiencies in existence. Because marketable products are being formed, the value of each ton of waste received will be greater than the tipping fee presently received.
- Enhance, or further develop the use of ammonia as a fuel for internal combustion engines, possibly as a duel fuel system. This can provide a nearly carbon free fuel for use in already existing engines for electricity generation, or as a transport fuel, possibly targeting fleet vehicles initially. This directly eliminates the use of petrochemical fuels and the carbon dioxide produced when these fuels are used.
- Develop the use of ammonia as a storage chemical for hydrogen produced in the hydrogasification. This stored hydrogen can be catalytically split to produce hydrogen for use in fuel cells to produce electricity to power vehicles, or other applications. Again this is a replacement for any petrochemical fuels used for the power in other systems needed to fulfill the energy requirements replaced by the fuel cells.
- A hydrogasification unit located at an existing landfill, provides an ability to process leachate from that landfill. This also allows the existing landfill to be mined and remediated to a condition that would not exist as a future hazard of fire, or greenhouse gas release
Policy changes that could enhance controlling green house gas emissions from landfills are as indicated:
- Ensure that all landfills are appropriately bonded such that responsibility for maintenance, or reclamation of the landfill extends as long as possible, often beyond the lifespan of corporations, or individuals that establish them.
- Properly identify the individuals beyond the shell of a corporation that will be held accountable for landfill operations.
- Use a national surcharge for every ton of waste buried in a landfill.
- Encourage a profit sharing arrangement between a waste processor and individuals that dispose waste at a processing facility.
- Provide funding that is readily available and will encourage the building of the processing facilities so that operations can be commenced, rather than stymied by financiers without vision.
Who will take these actions?
Landfill usage with concomitant green house gas (GHG) emission is widespread where incineration is minimal, or absent due to investment return, or environmental concern. In order to move forward from landfills reasons and stimuli to move away must be initiated.
International bodies (UN, EU, WHO, etc.) need to identify landfills as problems and move to coordinate a need to eliminate them.
Countries and states / provinces, or equivalent, individually, through the environmental protection portion of their governments need to enforce the control landfill gasses and leachate, etc. They also must see the value in the use of processing facilities and encourage, or modify regulations that will favor the processing of wastes rather than the landfilling, or incineration of wastes.
Counties and municipalities, or their equivalent, that is responsible for the health and welfare of the community need to be aware of the disposal the waste from their area. These officials have to make appropriate choices that protect the environment and thus the communities. Because the hydrogasification process with NH3 synthesis produces useful products, disposal of waste to a processing facility can be economicly non punishing. This can also be prompted by a surcharge being added to any waste going to a landfill.
Landfill operators should become aware of the potentially dangerous and entangled operations they run. Encouragement to site and possibly partner with a hydrogasification to ammonia processing facility on their property could ensure future revenue and perhaps remediation of the landfill.
Financing by government through grants, or loan guarantees. Securing financing is difficult for new operations, even if they have the potential for significant good. Private lenders balk and government financing presently is difficult to obtain for a new business.
Development of ammonia as a fuel to be sponsored by enlightened government grants, private industry, and individual entrepreneurs.
Where will these actions be taken?
The location for the activities will be world wide. Initially, the actions could be in locations where landfills / dumps have caused, are causing, or potentially will cause major problems. Consider the Riverton dump outside Kingston, Jamaica. In 2015 a fire in the dump caused more than $200 million in losses. There are still large communities that dispose of their MSW in the ocean, most likely because of the low economic cost, this can also be stopped since essentially all of the MSW can be used to produce marketable products. Now there will be an economic reason not to "dispose of" MSW, but to use it.
What are other key benefits?
- Elimination of new landfill requirements.
- Recovery of existing landfill sites.
- Protect groundwater and surface water resources from landfill leachate and runoff contamination.
- Reduce the amount of natural gas needed to produce ammonia and ammonia based commodities.
- Replace petroleum based fuel in diesel engines where appropriate thus eliminating uncontrolled carbon dioxide release.
- Ultimately, ammonia fuel will be produced at the locations where it will be used as opposed to centralized refineries and shipped to use sites, saving carbon dioxide production during transport.
- Because the facilities are non polluting, they do not have to be located at landfill sites and may be located nearer to the waste generation locations (large cities) saving fuel transporting the waste to disposal areas and the carbon dioxide now generated for this transport.
- Water used in the process can come from a polluted source and the resulting water will be clean.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
There are 50,000 million metric tons of GHG emitted each year, about 1,500 million is sewage and MSW related. Global acceptance of the hydrogasification of MSW and sewage sludge could reduce the GHG emitted by 1,000 million tons per year. In addition, there will be additional emissions avoided by changing fuel usage to ammonia generated at the facility.
There are estimated 1.2 billion metric tons of MSW generated globally annually. If all is processed, about 300 million metric tons of ammonia can be produced. On an energy basis, this would replace about 48 billion gallons of petroleum based fuel, eliminating another 436 million metric tons of GHG annually.
Properly locating near waste sources to eliminate long transport of waste will eliminate fuel usage since the operation has fewer siting requirements than a landfill.
The elimination of landfills will also avoid the accidental burning of landfills and uncontrolled release of GHG and other unwanted chemicals from these situations.
What are the proposal’s costs?
A facility processing 100 tons per day of MSW will cost between $18,000,000 to $25,000,000 USD. Tipping fees are expected to pay the operating costs and the products produced will address profit and debt maintenance.
A processing facility located at a landfill site will result in no negative economic side effect. All jobs will be maintained with the responsibilities for burying the MSW being shifted to daily operations. The mining and remediation of existing landfills for remediation will provide new jobs. The only jobs that may be affected is the shipping of waste jobs.
Initially, (1 to 5 years) installation of demonstration projects will commence and the first use of ammonia will be as a commodity as ammonia, urea, or salt of ammonia. Demonstration of the utility of ammonia as a fuel source (directly, or as a hydrogen source) will commence.
The next 5 to 15 years will see the spread of the gasification technology as the benefits and commercial viability becomes more widely accepted. In locations where combustion of petroleum produces for transport is not desireable, ammonia fueled applications will increase.
Medium term (15 to 50 years) should see an end to landfills as they are presently known. Entrepreneurs will seek out regions needing landfill control and introduce the hydrogasification to NH3 process as a profitable venture.
Long term (50 to 100 years) landfills will be not known and where there is a waste issue, hydrogasification to NH3 will fill that demand.
This is a gasification process that used uses a plasma torch energy source.