Techno-economic assessment of turning gasification-based waste char into energy : a case study in South-Tyrol

Piazzi, Stefano and Zhang, Xiaolei and Patuzzi, Francesco and Baratieri, Marco (2020) Techno-economic assessment of turning gasification-based waste char into energy : a case study in South-Tyrol. Waste Management, 105. pp. 550-559. ISSN 1879-2456 (

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In the South-Tyrol region (Italy), 46 gasifiers are currently operating and €200,000 are annually paid to dispose of as a waste 1300 tons of char. Therefore, there is a considerable interest in finding alternatives for the valorization of this solid by-product. The aim of this work is to assess the potential of char as energy source and to compare two scenarios. The first scenario considers the possibility of exploiting char in a dedicated burner integrated in the gasification plant. The second scenario assumes that all the char is collected from South-Tyrol and co-fired with biomass in an existing combustion-ORC plant. An economic analysis was performed evaluating the discounted payback time and both scenarios were modeled using Aspen Plus®. The results reveal that substantial savings in the operating costs of the plants can be achieved. In the first scenario the owners of the gasification plants could save from 50% to 94% of the char disposal costs with a payback time ranging between 3 and 7 years. In the second scenario, the owner of the plant could save approximately €235k per year with a payback time of approximately 7 years. The present study provides a basis for further techno-economic studies on char combustion. The results can be helpful for the owners of the gasification plants in determining the most cost-effective way to dispose char and to avoid disposing it of as a waste. Furthermore, it is demonstrated how char could be used as a renewable fuel, with better performance than raw biomass.