International Opportunities and Success Stories for the Production of Chemicals/Fuels from Waste

Organizers: Beau Hoffman, Technology Manager, US Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office, and Inge Johansson

In 2012, the World Bank estimated that around 1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) is generated each year globally, and it is estimated that will rise to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025 due to increased urbanization in developing and emerging economies. These statistics illustrate that these waste streams are available in abundant quantities today and often pose significant environmental challenges. Amongst OECD countries, waste management practices and infrastructure vary considerably due to legislative policies/frameworks, costs of landfilling, and significant changes in recycling practices such as Asian restrictions on foreign plastics. Moreover, while it is technically possible and commercial technologies exist to convert these waste streams into power and/or heat (e.g. using anaerobic digestion, incineration), margins on these end products are often too thin to manage these wastes at an economy-level. These, as well as other factors, has created the need for alternative strategies for managing these waste streams: namely the production of higher value biofuels and biochemicals from MSW.

As a result of these differing policy and societal factors, R&D and process development must be aligned to meet near- and long-term challenges. To this end, this symposium will explore two of these areas:

  1. International Perspectives on the Availability and Opportunity of Wastes as Feedstocks
    This portion of the program will focus on non-technical elements regarding the feasibility of producing fuels and chemicals from waste such as resource availability and costs. It will also discuss local, national, and regional policies that are influencing which waste management needs are most pressing.
  2. Technological Success Stories for the Conversion of Waste to Fuels and Chemicals
    This portion of the program will feature technological case studies for the conversion of waste streams. In addition to discussing the innovative conversion processes being developed or demonstrated, the invited talks will also include discussions of techno-economics and/or life cycle analyses associated with their process Technologies and processes that are at the piloting phase or beyond and are thus poised to make a near term impact will be showcased during this portion of the program.

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