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Performance analysis of energy recovery in an Italian municipal solid waste landfill

Giovanni Zappini, Paola Cocca and Diana Rossi

Energy, 2010, vol. 35, issue 12, 5063-5069

Abstract: The objective of this paper is to assess the techno-economic viability of the use of fuel cell as an alternative technology for landfill gas energy recovery. The case of an Italian municipal solid waste landfill is analyzed. The landfill was opened in 1998 and in 2001 the energy recovery facility started operation. The current landfill gas conversion system is based on internal combustion engine technology. However, the drawbacks of internal combustion engine in terms of conversion efficiency and air emissions are widely acknowledged. Some authors have proposed molten carbonate fuel cell as one of the most interesting solution for landfill gas energy recovery for the near future. Fuel cells have proven capable of providing superior energy efficiency and environmental performance, but their widespread use is constrained by the capital cost required. Using actual data from the landfill, a comparison between the current energy recovery system and a hypothetical alternative solution based on molten carbonate fuel cell is performed. The analysis assesses the cost-effectiveness of the two solutions, considering also some environmental externalities usually not included in traditional economic assessment. The main strengths and weaknesses of the two landfill gas energy recovery systems are highlighted and some new insights into molten carbonate fuel cell overall sustainability are provided.

Keywords: Landfill gas; Energy recovery; Fuel cell; Molten carbonate fuel cell; Internal combustion engine; Externalities (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:eee:energy:v:35:y:2010:i:12:p:5063-5069