Physical pretreatment of biogenic-rich trommel fines for fast pyrolysis

Joseph Eke, Jude A. Onwudili*, Anthony V. Bridgwater

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Energy from Waste (EfW) technologies such as fluidized bed fast pyrolysis, are beneficial for both energy generation and waste management. Such technologies, however face significant challenges due to the heterogeneous nature, particularly the high ash contents of some municipal solid waste types e.g. trommel fines. A study of the physical/mechanical and thermal characteristics of these complex wastes is important for two main reasons; (a) to inform the design and operation of pyrolysis systems to handle the characteristics of such waste; (b) to control/modify the characteristics of the waste to fit with existing EFW technologies via appropriate feedstock preparation methods. In this study, the preparation and detailed characterisation of a sample of biogenic-rich trommel fines has been carried out with a view to making the feedstock suitable for fast pyrolysis based on an existing fluidized bed reactor. Results indicate that control of feed particle size was very important to prevent problems of dust entrainment in the fluidizing gas as well as to prevent feeder hardware problems caused by large stones and aggregates. After physical separation and size reduction, nearly 70. wt% of the trommel fines was obtained within the size range suitable for energy recovery using the existing fast pyrolysis system. This pyrolyzable fraction could account for about 83% of the energy content of the 'as received' trommel fines sample. Therefore there was no significant differences in the thermochemical properties of the raw and pre-treated feedstocks, indicating that suitably prepared trommel fines samples can be used for energy recovery, with significant reduction in mass and volume of the original waste. Consequently, this can lead to more than 90% reduction in the present costs of disposal of trommel fines in landfills. In addition, the recovered plastics and textile materials could be used as refuse derived fuel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages17
JournalWaste Management
Early online date18 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • Biogenic municipal waste
  • Fluidized bed reactor
  • Physical pretreatment
  • Trommel fines


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