Project Synopsis

Evaluate the feasibility of using Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to generate liquid synthetic fuels via various process options within Waste-To-Liquid Hydrocarbon (WTLH) production facilities.

Project Summary


The client manufactures specialty reactors that can be used in Fischer-Tropsch Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) reaction applications.  Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted to evaluate the feasibility of using Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to generate liquid synthetic fuels in Waste-To-Liquid Hydrocarbon (WTLH) facilities. The purpose of this study was to define and evaluate WTLH plants and to accomplish the following:

  • Determine the technical and economical configuration to further guide the preparation of a Basic Engineering Package (BEP)
  • Explore technical and economical configurations for larger capacity commercial units

The study placed heavy emphasis on designing a configuration which was self-sufficient from an energy usage standpoint.

Process simulations based on four separate configurations were developed to model conversion of MSW into three synthetic fuels: naphtha, diesel, and wax.  Each configuration was simulated using PROCESS' commercial computer process simulation software, CHEMCAD, to generate heat and material balances. The heat and material balances were used to generate preliminary process designs which were used to estimate capital and operating costs for each scenario. 

An economic analysis determined that the use of a combined cycle configuration yielded the lowest cost per barrel of synthetic fuel produced among the four configurations considered.  Additional analyses were conducted on selected configurations at varying feed rates to evaluate the economy of scale and identify an optimal demonstration unit design basis. 

The study identified the primary cost of the facility as the return on capital investment.  The revenue for the system was based on the composition of the synthetic gas produced, which was not an ideal stream for conversion into liquid fuel in terms of composition or pressure.

Industry Type

  • Gas-to-Liquids (GTL)
  • Municipal Solid Waste to Liquid Fuels

Utilized Skills

  • Evaluation of multiple processing options
  • Technical and economic feasibility study
  • Cost estimation
  • Waste recycling process design

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