In a new paper, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, we are the first to quantify and compare the life cycle GHG emissions and costs of production of diesel and jet fuel derived from municipal solid waste (MSW) via three thermochemical conversion pathways. Conventional gasification and Fischer-Tropsch (FT middle distillate, MD), plasma gasification and Fischer-Tropsch (Plasma FT MD) and, conventional gasification, catalytic alcohol synthesis and alcohol-to-jet upgrading (ATJ MD). We use expanded system boundaries to capture the change in existing MSW use and disposal, and account for parameter uncertainty with Monte Carlo simulations.
We estimate median life cycle GHG emissions of 32.9, 62.3 and 52.7 gCO2e/MJ for FT, Plasma FT and ATJ MD fuels, respectively, compared to a baseline of 90 gCO2e/MJ for conventional MD fuels. Median minimum selling prices are estimated at 0.99, 1.78 and 1.20 $ per litre with the probability of achieving a positive net present value of fuel production at market prices of 14%, 0.1% and 7% for FT, Plasma FT and ATJ MD fuels, respectively.
If the societal perspective rather than an investor’s perspective is evaluated the probability of positive net present value of fuel production increases to 93%, 67% and 92.5% for the FT, Plasma FT, and ATJ MD fuels, respectively.