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Journal of Environmentally Friendly Processes
Petrotex Library Archive
Journal of Environmentally Friendly Processes
Journal Website: http://www.petrotex.us/2013/03/26/586/
Environmental and Economic Benefits of Energy Recovery in Landfill Gas
through CDM Project in Iran
Javad Asadi1, Mohammad Masoud Shalchi1, Pooya Jafari2, Omid Tavakoli1*
1. School of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
2. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun, Houston, TX 77204-4003, USA
Corresponding Author Email: [email protected]
Abstract
An average of 50 tonnes per day of municipal solid waste (MSW) is produced in Iran, which is about
70% wet organic waste and about 80% of the waste is dumped in landfills. Landfill gas (LFG) which is
essentially methane (50–55%) and carbon dioxide (40–45%) is released from MSW by biodegradation
processes which could be converted to green energy. Based on the Kyoto Protocol (Dec 1997), the Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM) was started by a means of implementing administrative approaches to
enhance the environment. In the official website of the CDM, 228 projects are registered in the field of
energy production from LFG however, in Iran just one project is registered in the landfill of Mashhad.
The total amount of methane produced in the landfills of Iran approximately 0.95 million tonnes per
year, which has many environment's detrimental aspects. Produced methane was annually approximated
to generate 6.78×109 kWh to the nation's power grid and electricity thus generated could be sold to
government and attract revenue of 115.2×106 US $ in 2014. In addition Equivalent CO2 reduction of 20
million tonnes per year. The potential of energy recovery through CDM and economic and
environmental benefits in the years 2015 and 2020 is estimated and the outcomes are encouraging.
Keywords: Municipal solid waste, Energy recovery, Clean Development Mechanism, Landfill gas,
Green energy, GHG emission
Asadi, Shalchi, Jafari, Tavakoli /Journal of Environmentally Friendly Processes
1. Introduction
Municipal solid waste (MSW) management is a major challenge in urban areas. Without an effective and adequate
MSW management program, the waste generated from various human activities can result in health hazards and have
a negative impact on the environment. Global warming is one of the most important issues of recent time. This
could be mainly related to the trapping of great quantities of typical gases in the atmosphere that cause the greenhouse
gas effect and increasing the global temperatures [1].
The management of municipal solid waste (MSW) is the biggest problem faced by the growing urban areas in Iran.
Waste landfills have been recognized as the largest source of anthropogenic methane emission and an important
contributor to global warming. Methane is a GHG which constitutes 50–55% by volume of landfill gas with over 21
times stronger than CO2. Landfills are ranked as the third highest source of global anthropogenic methane emissions
and also responsible for approximately 10–19% of annual global methane emission and because methane is a GHG
with commercial value therefore a permanent effort has been made to capture and use it as a source of energy [2]. The
conversion of LFG into resource depends on the management of MSW in landfills. Landfilling is the main MSW
disposal method in Iran. Treatment and disposal methods that use in Iran for MSW mainly include landfilling,
composting (aerobic and vermicomposting) and very few waste to energy and power production. The most prevalent
method of MSW disposal in Iran is open dumping and existing dump sites possess many insufficiencies. There are
about 977 dumping stations in the urban areas of Iran. Approximately none of these stations are sanitary or well
maintained. The methods of disposal of MSW in Iran are shown in Table 1 [3].
Table 1: Method of MSW Disposal in the Iran [3]
Method
Percentage
Remark
Open dumping
Open dumping and incineration
Unsanitary landfill
Sanitary landfill
Other
24
39
12
24
2
Dumping MSW in trenches, rarely with covering material
Dumping MSW in trenches and use of covering material
Mainly composting
About 85–95% of the MSW in Iran are land-filled and mostly open dumping without a LFG extraction system. These
landfills can be suitably managed, by capturing the methane for electricity generation on-site, thereby revenue is
generated and the environmental problem due to its emission is mitigated. This study estimates the methane emission
and the potential of energy recovery through the clean development mechanism CDM and its economic and
environmental benefits in the years of 2015 and 2020 are estimated.
2. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Generation in Iran
Solid waste is an important environmental problem in both developed and developing countries. In recent years, most
developing countries have started to improve their municipal solid waste management practices [4]. The increasing
amount of wastes generated by rapid urbanization in these countries is usually not properly managed. Waste
management systems in developing countries facing many difficulties, including deficiencies in technical and financial
issues which often cover only collection and transfer costs, leaving no resources for safe final disposal [5]. Current
global MSW generations levels are approximately 1.3 billion tonnes per year, and are expected to increase to
approximately 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025. This represents a significant increase in per capita waste generation
rates, from 1.2 to 1.42 kg per person per day in the next fifteen years [6]. The growing urban population density,
change in lifestyle, increase in human activities, industrialization, income and consumption are factors that increase
waste generation. Iran like all developing countries is facing an increase in the MSW generation and also
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Asadi, Shalchi, Jafari, Tavakoli /Journal of Environmentally Friendly Processes
the problem of managing this waste could be a major challenge. In Iran about 18 million tonnes of MSW are generated
per year. Daily per capita generation of MSW in Iran ranges from about 400 gr in small towns to 900 gr in large towns.
Currently Tehran with more than 12 million inhabitants, disposes of some 8,000 tons per day of MSW
[7]. The amount of MSW generated per capita is increasing at a rate of 1–1.33% annually in developing nations
because of the increasing population, human activities and other aspects (In Iran approximately 1.2%) [8]. Table 2
shows MSW generation until 2020 in Iran.
Table 2: MSW Generation in Iran in Thousand Tonnes/year
Region
2010
2013
2015
2020
Urban
13304.25
13782.4
14114.5
14961.3
Rural
3650
3781.4
3872.2
4104.4
Total
16954.25
17563.8
17986.8
19065.7
2.1. Anaerobic Biodegradation of MSW and Methane Generation Process in Landfills
LFG is generated through decomposition of biodegradable landfilled material under anaerobic conditions and
primarily consists of methane and carbon dioxide and smaller (<0.5%) amounts of non-methane organic compounds.
MSW after being placed in a landfill, organic waste is initially decomposed by aerobic bacteria. Aerobic bacteria
consume oxygen while breaking down the long molecular chains of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids that
consist of organic waste. After the oxygen has been used up, the remaining waste is available for consumption by
anaerobic bacteria, which Hydrolysis of carbohydrates and other organic matter into substances such as cellulose,
amino acids, and sugars. These substances are further decompose through fermentation into gases and short-chain
organic compounds that form the substrates for the growth of methanogenic bacteria. Methane is formed by
methanogenic bacteria, either by decomposing the acids to methane and carbon dioxide, or by reducing carbon dioxide
with hydrogen [9]. LFG consisting of approximately 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2) and 50 percent CH4, and also
contains trace amounts of non-methane organic compounds (NMOC) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) that
either result from decomposition by-products or volatilization of biodegradable wastes.
The necessary reaction in a landfill is anaerobic biodegradation of the organic component of MSW. Table 3 shows the
average of MSW component and characteristic in Iran. Table 3 indicate that at least 72% of Iranian MSW is made of
organic component.
Table 3: MSW Component in Iran
(Complete plan for waste management in Iran 2010)
Waste type
Weight
Wet waste
72.9
Plastic
8.4
Paper
7.2
Glass
1.9
Textile
2.3
Metals
2.3
Wood
1.2
3
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The maximum amount of LFG generated in the anaerobic decomposition, can be estimated by the following simplified
reaction. The chemical formula C6H10O4 (Adipic acid) is said to closely approximate the mix of organic wastes in
MSW: [9]
C6H10O4 + 1.5H2O → 3.25CH4 + 2.75CO2
(1)
Eq. (1) indicates that the ratio of waste to water is 5.4:1 (since MW of the waste is 146 and water 18). In addition,
since MSW in Iran contains about 40-60% moisture, there is enough moisture to react with the waste.
Worldwide methane emissions from landfilling of MSW are estimated at 35-40 million tonnes per year and developing
countries have been estimated to responsible for about 29% of the these emissions, but this share is expected to increase
about 64% by 2030 and 76% in 2050 with landfills being the major method for MSW disposal in developing countries
[10]. Developed countries is expected to reduction in methane emission from MSW due to practical program as
recycling MSW, increased LFG regulation and waste to energy programs ( In Germany, methane emissions from
landfilling of MSW in 2000 and 2010 are 14.37 and 6.28 MtCO2eq respectively). Developing countries, on the other
hand, are expected to face increasing rates because of population increase and poor MSW management ( In Saudi
Arabia, in 2000 and 2010 are 16.79 and 22.12 MtCO2eq respectively). The world totals methane emission from MSW
was estimated to be 788 million tonnes CO2 eq in 2015 [11], [12].Fig 1 shows the estimated methane emissions from
landfilling MSW in selected countries in 2015
Fig 1: Methane emission from landfilling of MSW in selected countries in 2015 [21]
The generation rate of landfill gas also depends on local conditions and climate variations like humidity, temperature
and rainfall as well as the type of landfill operation and how the MSW is deposited. Methane emissions from landfills
are routinely calculated and very rarely measured directly. A number of methodologies are available for the estimation
of GHG emission potential from landfill sites which are used to summarize the very complex chemical and biological
decomposition. despite significant differences between cases are generally observed in the prediction [13]. Ref [9]
estimated the extraction of landfill gas, expressed as pure methane, is in the 100-150 Nm3 CH4/tonne range and
depends on the way in which the gas is collected. Ref. [14] also estimated 100–200 Nm3 of LFG (54–108 Nm3
methane) per tonnes MSW. Many models for estimating CH4 emissions with different orders of kinetics are currently
available as follows, zero-order, first-order and second order models, as well as some more complex models (IPCC
2006). The default methodology (IPCC 1996) has been widely applied in the cases where detailed data are not
available and assumed that all potential methane is released in the first year of the waste disposal, however provides
reasonable estimation of actual emissions.
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2.2. Methane emission estimate from MSW landfilling by the IPCC Method in Iran
The method proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the estimation of methane
emission from landfills as the default method, is based on a mass balance approach and the simplest one to estimate
total emissions from solid waste disposal sites and uses several empirical constant parameters [1]
CH4 generated (tonnes/year) =
MSWT ×MSWF × MCF× DOC × DOCF × F × (16/12-R) × (1-OX)
(2)
Where:
MSWT: total MSW generated (tonnes/year), Total MSWT can be calculated from population (in thousand persons) ×
annual MSW generation rate
MSWF: fraction of MSW disposed of at the disposal sites
MCF: methane correction factor (Fraction)
DOC: degradable organic carbon
DOCF: fraction DOC Dissimilated. It is a portion of the DOC that is converted to LFG.
F: fraction of CH4 in landfill gas {0.5 (50% of LFG)}
R: recovered CH4 (default 0)
OX: oxidation factor (default is 0)
According to the IPCC, MCF ranges from 0.4 to 1 that depend on the management of landfills. 1.0 for anaerobic
managed solid waste disposal sites, 0.8 for unmanaged solid waste disposal sites, 0.5 for semi-aerobic managed solid
waste disposal sites and 0.4 for unmanaged-shallow solid waste disposal sites.
DOC is estimated from:
DOC= 0.4P + 0.15K+ 0.3W
(3)
Where P is the fraction of papers in MSW, K is the fraction of organic or food waste in MSW and W is the fraction
of woods or leaves in MSW. DOC ranges from 0.08 to 0.21.The default value of 0.77 and 0.5 can be used for DOC F
and F respectively.
The amount of methane generated from MSW landfills in Iran was estimated using the IPCC methodology. Total
waste generated, MSWT in 2010 was used for the estimation (Complete plan for Waste management in Iran 2010).
The value of waste fraction, MSWF was taken as 0.9 because 90% of the total MSW in Iran was land filled. A value
of 0.8 was used for MCF in Iran since most of the landfills were unmanaged solid waste disposal site. According
to table 3 for calculate DOC, a value of 0.072 for P and 0.729 and 0.012 for K and W respectively. Thus substituting
these values into Eq. (3) gives DOC of 0.141. It is assumed that no methane recovery takes place and so R is zero
while the oxidation factor is also zero.
Table 4 shows the amount of methane generated by Eq. (2) for selected years by urban and rural area of Iran and
estimated methane generation in 2015 and 2020 according to MSW generation in these years in table 2.
Table 4: Estimated CH4 generated from waste disposal site in Iran
CH4
(tonnes/year)
(2010)
CH4 (tonnes/year)
(2013)
CH4 (tonnes/year)
(2015)
CH4 (tonnes/year)
(2020)
Urban
718429.5
744249.6
762183
807910.2
Rural
197100
204195.6
209098.8
221637.6
Total
915529.5
948445.2
971281.8
1029547.8
Region
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3. CDM Opportunities
In Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol, requires the majority of industrialized countries (Annex-I) to limit their GHG
emission by 5.2% of their 1990 levels. However, if Annex-I countries were motivated to observe their emission
reduction targets alone, they would encounter enormous economic impacts due to high marginal costs of their domestic
mitigation [15]. Therefore, under The Kyoto Protocol three mechanisms provided for the countries have been given
an option to meet their targets:
- Joint Implementation (JI)
- International Emissions Trading (IET)
- Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
GHG mitigation taking place anywhere will have the same environmental effects due to the uniform mixing.The clean
development mechanism (CDM) was defined and allows project developers and investors (annex-I) to implement an
emission reduction project in host parties (developing countries) and to sell the resulting emissions reductions in the
form of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) to the industrialized countries.
The CDM is consider as a win–win mechanism because developed countries can reach their emission reduction targets
and also provide funding for developing countries to become more energy efficient and sustainable in their production
and consumption due to the new technology that has a lighter impact on the environment [11]. The most common
benefits from the mechanism are employment generation, economic growth, better air quality, access to energy and
public assistance improvement [16].
Registered CDM projects as given in the CDM UNFCCC site are 7535 as on 26-07-2014. Expected CERs until the
end of 2015 are 4,661,633,020. Distribution of registered projects by host parties are shown in Fig 2.
Fig 2: Distribution of registered project by host parties (http://cdm.unfccc.int/Statistics/Public/index.html - July 2014)
Fig 2 indicate that 50% of total registered CDM is in China (3758 projects) and in Iran this value is 0.17 % (13
projects). Energy related technologies, like renewable and non-renewable energy, energy efficiency and fuel
conversion, represent the majority of CDM projects covering. Percentage of projects belonging to a CDM scope of
all registered projects are shown in Fig 3.
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Asadi, Shalchi, Jafari, Tavakoli /Journal of Environmentally Friendly Processes
Fig 3: Distribution of registered projects by Scope (http://cdm.unfccc.int/Statistics/Public/index.html - July 2014)
3.1. CDM Projects in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Iran with over 500million tonnes of annual CO2 emissions plus other GHGs, has great opportunities in using CDM to
lower GHG emission and can play an important role in achieving the targets of the Kyoto Protocol. From the thirteen
projects which have been registered by the Islamic Republic of Iran Six projects are related to small scale projects on
fuel switching in sugarcane plant and three projects related to fuel switching from single cycle to combined cycle in
power plant and two projects related to hydropower plant and landfill. Two large scale project related to Soroosh &
Nowrooz early gas gathering and utilization project and catalytic abatement of N2O in nitric acid plant of Shiraz
petrochemical company. Estimated emission reductions through CDM projects is 3620014 in metric tonnes of CO 2
equivalent per annum (as stated by the project participants) [UNFCC.com]
3.2. CDM Projects with Energy Recovery from MSW and Methodologies
In the official website of the CDM, 913 projects are registered in the field of waste management, including 228 projects
related to energy production from landfill gas (LFG); however, in Iran just one project is registered in the landfill of
Mashhad. The UNFCCC is developing methodologies for the recovery of energy from MSW. The most commonly
CDM methodologies that used and related to MSW are:
Landfill gas recovery (ACM0001), avoidance of methane generation from biomass and gasification or
mechanical/thermal treatment like RDF (AMS III.E.), grid connected electricity generation (AMS I.D.), composting
(AMS.III.F.), alternative waste treatment technologies (AM0022). The Mashad landfill is one of the main landfills of
Khorasan Razavi, Iran. It was initiated in 1976 and has received about 8,000,000 tonnes of MSW. CDM project
implemented in 2012 to reduce methane emissions from the landfill of Mashad into the atmosphere. The collection of
the landfill gas will be realized by the installation of a degassing system, actively extract the gas from the landfill and
burn it in gas engines available at the landfill site. In case of the gas engines are out of order because of maintenance,
the Landfill gas will be burnt in an enclosed high temperature flare (1000°C -1200°C), that is able to burn 660 m3 of
biogas per hour (ACM0001), version 11.
(a) The captured gas is flared;
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Asadi, Shalchi, Jafari, Tavakoli /Journal of Environmentally Friendly Processes
(b) The captured gas is used to produce energy (e.g. electricity/thermal energy). Emission reductions can be claimed
for thermal energy generation, only if the LFG displaces use of fossil fuel either in a boiler or n an air heater. For
claiming emission reductions for other thermal energy equipment, project proponents may submit a revision to this
methodology;
(c) The captured gas is used to supply consumers through a natural gas distribution network [UNFCC.com Mashad
landfill gas to energy, Project Design Document: Version 12.0 Date of the document: 16-01-2012]
Without this project the landfill gas would not have been captured and also not burnt and landfill gas would have been
emitted into the air. When the gas is burned in the gas engine it will be converted into electrical energy and produce
0.6 MW electricity.
In this way, the landfill gas is being used in a sustainable way and environmental benefits obtain in several aspects
such as reduction in landfill gas emission, production of renewable energy and also odor nuisance for the surrounding
residential areas is reduced. Furthermore the project is a sustainable contribution to CO 2 emission reduction that cause
80,972 tones reduction of CO2 equivalent annually, better landfill management and the generation of green electricity
[17].
4. Environmental and Economic Benefits of Methane Capture:
As the most common method of MSW disposal in Iran is open dumping which make several problems like; emission
of GHGs to the atmosphere, pollution of ground water by leachate, human’s health concern and risk of fire and
explosion in landfills. Therefore, adoption of sanitary landfill and waste to energy method of waste disposal is
suggested as a progressive way to solve the problems of open dumping [18]. GHG emissions from MSW is estimated
to account for almost 5% of total global greenhouse gas emissions [19]. Landfill gas is a mixture mainly of carbon
dioxide and methane in quite similar concentrations, along with traces of other gasses such as H2 S, H2, N2O and NH3,
arising from the decomposition of biodegradable materials. Some of these gasses, such as CH 4, have a GHG potential
21 times higher than CO2 and N2O, with concentrations about <<1%, with a GHG potential 310 times higher than CO2
[20]. The composition and volume fraction of landfill gas are shown in table 5.
Table 5: Composition and Volume Fraction of LFG [9]
Compound
Volume fraction (%)
Methane (CH4)
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Nitrogen (N2)
Oxygen (O2)
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S)
Ammonia
Non-methane organic compound (NMOC)
40-60
35-50
2-20
0-3
10-2000 PPM
Partial
2700 PPM
Therefore, the capturing and utilization of the biogas is not only provide environmental benefits but revenue can also
be generated by utilizing it as a renewable energy resource. Methane from MSW is a source of energy that is ‘free’
and mostly cleaner than fossil fuels. The environmental and economic benefits of methane capture are shown in Table
6.
Equivalent CO2 reduction in years 2015 and 2020 were estimated by multiplying annual methane emission by 21
(methane has about 21 times global warming potential than CO2).
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Table 6: Environmental and Economic Benefits of Methane Capture
year
Estimated methane
emission
(tonnes)
Equivalent CO2
emission
(Mt CO2eq)
Revenue from CER
(×106 US $)
Equivalent electricity
Generation
(×109 kW h)
Revenue from
Electricity sale
(×106 US $)
2010
915529.5
19.22
38.4-192.2
6.47
109.99
2011
926515.8
19.45
38.9-194.5
6.55
111.3
2012
937634.4
19.69
39.3-196.9
6.62
112.5
2013
948888
19.92
39.8-199.2
6.71
114
2014
960271.2
20.16
40.3-201.6
6.78
115.2
2015
971795.3
20.41
40.8-204.1
6.87
116.8
2020
1031518.8
21.66
43.3-216.6
7.29
123.9
The values shown for CO2 reduction equivalent in 2014, 20.16 Mt CO2 eq are over 3% of the total CO2 emission in
Iran [17]. This is a serious environmental pollution which could contribute to the environmental degradation
experienced globally. On the other hand, these generated methane can be managed sustainability and presented as a
renewable energy and economical source in the form of CDM projects. LFG energy projects will lead to the creation
of jobs that are associated with the design, construction, and operation of energy recovery systems. If the methane
emitted from landfills were captured and used in a CDM project, the revenue from carbon credits are about 40.3-201.6
million US $ in 2014 based on 2-10 US$/tonne CO2. Equivalent electricity generation, based on methane calorific
value of 17MJ/m3 with a density of 0.667kg/m3 at 30°C [19] is 6.78×109 KWh in 2014 (1MJ=0.2775 kWh) and about
3 % of total electricity consumption in Iran. In addition electricity thus generated could be sold to government and
attract revenue of 115.2×106 US $ in 2014 based on 444.2 Rial/KWh (1 US $=26252 Rial).
5. Conclusion
The management of MSW is a serious issue faced by the developing countries due to increasing urbanization and
industrialization. One of the common management practices for MSW handling is its dumping in the landfills. LFG
is an important source of CH4 emission contributing to global warming. Collecting LFG to produce electricity
improves the air quality of the surrounding community by reducing landfill odors and also burning LFG to produce
electricity also destroys most of the non–methane organic compounds that are present at low concentrations in
uncontrolled LFG, thereby reducing possible health hazards from these compounds. Gas collection can also improve
safety by reducing explosion hazards from gas accumulation in structures on or near the landfill. Generating electricity
from existing MSW landfills is also a cost–effective way to provide new renewable energy generation capacity to
supply community power needs or directly as a fuel displace fossil fuels such as oil and coal which is an environmental
benefit. A CDM project can be described as a sustainable and environmentally beneficial project. It can be concluded
that CDM projects in municipal waste management can help every developing country in several ways, such as the
growth of more renewable energy, energy efficiency and other environmental friendly industries. This will create
more opportunities for economic growth in the end. the most important benefit being emission reduction and electricity
generation. The values shown for CO2 reduction equivalent in 2013 for instance (19917349.2 tonnes) are over 3% of
the total carbon emission in Iran.
If the methane emitted from landfills were captured and used in a CDM project, the revenue from carbon credits are
about 59 -200 million US$ in 2013. Therefore CDM makes the projects financially more attractive and motivate to
use LFG to produce electricity and also jobs associated with the design, construction, and operation of energy recovery
systems can create.
Equivalent electricity generation, based on methane calorific value of 55,530 kJ/kg and Gas Engine efficiency of 40%
is 5.8×109 KWh in 2013 and about 3% of total electricity consumption in Iran. In addition electricity thus
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Asadi, Shalchi, Jafari, Tavakoli /Journal of Environmentally Friendly Processes
generated could be sold to government and attract revenue of 25763.6×10 9 Rial in 2013 based on 444.2 Rial/KWh.
Iran needs to make a conscious plan towards developing more engineering landfills, capture methane and take
carbon credits that will provide reduction in overall GHG and promote the efforts to achieve sustainable development.
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