Incinerator performance: effects of changes in waste input and furnace operation on air emissions and residues

Thomas Astrup, Christian Riber, Anne Juul Pedersen

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Waste incineration can be considered a robust technology for energy recovery from mixed waste. Modern incinerators are generally able to maintain relatively stable performance, but changes in waste input and furnace operation may affect emissions. This study investigated how inorganic air emissions and residue composition at a full-scale incinerator were affected by known additions of specific waste materials to the normal municipal solid waste (MSW) input. Six individual experiments were carried out (% ww of total waste input): NaCl (0.5%), shoes (1.6%), automobile shredder waste (14%), batteries (0.5%), poly(vinyl chloride) (5.5%) and chromate-cupper-arsenate impregnated wood (11%). Materials were selected based on chemical composition and potential for being included or excluded from the waste mix. Critical elements in the waste materials were identified based on comparison with six experiments including ‘as-large-as-possible’ changes in furnace operation (oxygen levels, air supply and burnout level) only using normal MSW as input. The experiments showed that effects from the added waste materials were significant in relation to: air emissions (in particular As, Cd, Cr, Hg, Sb), element transfer coefficients, and residue composition (As, Cd, Cl, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mo, Ni, Pb, S, Sb, Zn). Changes in furnace operation could not be directly linked to changes in emissions and residues. The results outlined important elements in waste which should be addressed in relation to waste incinerator performance. Likely ranges of element transfer coefficients were provided as the basis for sensitivity analysis of life-cycle assessment (LCA) results involving waste incinerator technologies
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management and Research
Issue number10 suppl.
Pages (from-to)57-68
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Furnace operation
  • Air emissions
  • Residues
  • Municipal solid waste
  • Waste incinerator
  • Waste input composition
  • Incinerator performance


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