We have been advancing the concept of carbonized refuse-derived fuel (CRDF) by refuse-derived fuel (RDF) torrefaction as improved recycling to synergistically address the world’s energy demand. The RDF is a combustible fraction of municipal solid waste (MSW). Many municipalities recover RDF for co-firing with conventional fuels. Torrefaction can further enhance fuel properties and valorize RDF. Energy demand for torrefaction is one of the key unknowns needed for scaling up CRDF production. To address this need, a pioneering model for optimizing site-specific energy demand for torrefaction of mixed RDF materials was developed. First, thermogravimetric and differential scanning calorimetry analyses were used to establish thermal properties for eight common RDF materials. Then, the model using the %RDF mix, empirical thermal properties, and torrefaction temperature was developed. The model results for individual RDF components fitted well (R2
≥ 0.98) with experimental torrefaction data. Finally, the model was used to find an optimized RDF site-specific mixture with the lowest energy demand. The developed model could be a basis for estimating a net energy potential from the torrefaction of mixed RDF. Improved models could be useful to make plant-specific decisions to optimize RDF production based on the energy demand that depends on highly variable types of MSW and RDF streams.
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