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2011 2nd International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology

IPCBEE vol.6 (2011) (2011) IACSIT Press, Singapore

A Waste-To-Energy Plant for Municipal Solid Waste Management at the

Composting plant in Isfahan, Iran
Ramin Khosrokhavar

Saeed Esfandiari
Institute for International Energy Studies (I.I.E.S.), Energy
Economics Research Center,
65, Sayeh St., Vali-e-asr Ave., Tehran 1967743711, Iran,

** Iran Polymer & Petrochemical Institute (IPPI),

Pazhoohesh Blvd., Km 17, Tehran-Karaj Hwy, Tehran, I.R.
Iran, P. O. Box: 14965/115,

Masih Sekhavat
Parsian Energykaran Development Engineering & Management Co. (PEDEM),
Clean Development Mechanism Office, 1st Floor,
No.6, 18 Street, Yousefabad Avenue, Tehran, 1431894476, Iran,
AbstractMunicipal solid waste problems have become a

major concern in Iran. No concrete study has been done yet on

developing Waste-to-Energy technology as a complementary
solution for the current Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) crisis in
Iran. Apart from the available consistent data on waste
compositions and quantity, the authors of this paper have
conducted a new survey to identify problems and alternatives to
improve the current system.
The study objectives of the current study are as follows:

To determine the current integrated solid waste

composition and the generation of Refused Drive Fuel

To investigate the current solid waste management

system of Isfahan in which the compost site plays a
major role.
The foremost challenge Isfahan city is facing is from
landfilling. The examination of the project has been carried out
through interviews with municipal authorities, review of
existing documents, and field observations.
The organic fraction of solid waste composition in Isfahan
composting plant comprised about 75 percent. The generation
of waste in this plant was estimated to be approximately 844
Ton Per Day (TPD) (308,060 tons of MSW per year) of which,
about 500 TPD is rejected from the composting lines. The
current chain of management system is inefficient, and
recommendations are given by the authors of this paper to use
Waste-to-Energy technology to improve the present situation.
Keywords: Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Management,
Sustainable Development, Waste-to-Energy, Isfahan city,

Solid waste has turned out to be one of the challenges
facing humanity in the last half a century. Municipal Solid
Waste (MSW) is, in fact, a serious business in dry areas like
Iran. One of the main reasons behind this environmental
disaster in Iran is lack of an acceptable system of natural
resource management, including the management of MSW.
This is to say that waste is the one of the factors determining
the fragile system of life in the rural and urban communities
in Iran and it has not been developed and managed to the

extent required. The lack of Environmental Impact

Assessment is a major factor contributing to the current
droughts, lack of grasslands, large population growth and
increasing urbanization. These are major factors
exacerbating less carbon emission reduction and thus
contributing to increased climate change vulnerability and
environmental crises in Iran and its provinces. Problems
stemming from international sanctions such as securing
effective financing and equitable integrated solid waste
management technology could become acute in the future.
In Iran, MSW forms part of the political decisionmaking, and integrated solid waste management technology
could not be reached without first making a major shift in
social and political thinking. The Government, through the
Interior Ministry, has the responsibility to create conditions
to provide integrated solid waste management. This is
manifested under article 123 of the Iranian Constitution
formulated after the Iranian Revolution in 1978. For the time
being in Iran, developing Waste-to-Energy technology is a
complementary solution for the current MSW crisis and
environmental issues. It can also act as a tool for socioeconomic development and more importantly, a solution for
human and environmental health improvements. It is
therefore, an important tool for the entire security of the
human environment and also means building an economic
future that goes beyond green culture.
The study was conducted in May 2010 in the composting
and recycling plant of Isfahan Municipality located in the
Gardaneh Zeynal region, which has a total land area of 100
hectares with three parallel production lines. Isfahan had a
population of 3,430,353 in the 2006 Census comprising
686,070 households. The study covered the composting and
recycling plant of Isfahan municipality which treats the
MSW from Isfahan and its surrounding zones producing
approximately 308,060 tons of MSW per year (around 844
tons per day) which otherwise would be disposed in landfills.
The landfill sites in Isfahan do not currently have any
infrastructure for gas capturing systems and such systems are


not foreseen to be installed in the future. The quantity of

municipal solid waste entering to Isfahan compost plant is
approximately 844 TPD (308,060 tons of MSW per year) of
which about 500 TPD is rejected from the lines (some parts
in the middle of the line and other parts at the end of line).
This study followed 2 stages. Firstly, the municipal solid
waste entered the plant and its composition (Table 1) [5] was
determined. Secondly, we would figure out the investigation
of current waste management of Isfahan compost and
recycling plant. This was conducted by using the weight of
the entering waste, the weight of the rejected waste from the
lines and their average composition and finally, the proposed
solution for the rejected waste.
Name of Component

Organic matter
Paper Cardboard
Disposable dishes


Year 2010
Weight ( kg)

Percentage %



To determine the waste composition, five samples were

collected from five different collection spots and a
questionnaire was also provided for engineers at the plant
site to obtain further information regarding the composition
of the waste.
In conclusion, after reviewing the obtained records of
data and information, the proposed solution for the rejected
MSW from the plant will be provided. [10,4]
Isfahan faces its biggest challenge today which is 500
TPD waste deposited into the traditional landfill. It became
apparent to municipal solid waste (MSW) managers that a
garbage crisis was imminent in Isfahans more heavily
populated regions. Studies of effective waste management
options consistently indicated that the frugal practices of a
century ago held the greatest promise of lessening the need
for new composting plant and incinerators. After
establishment of Isfahan composting plant, the products of
this plant have beneficial properties for growing plants in the
green spaces of the city and also help retain moisture while
allowing good drainage. Nutrients are better able to cling to
composted soil particles, so the need for chemical fertilizers
can be reduced. Moreover, roots are able to penetrate deeper
into the soil, resulting in healthier plant growth in dry

weather of this region. Less fertilizer and better soil

penetration reduce fertilizer run-off into the Zayandeh Roud
River and streams.
A. Current Integrated Solid Waste Management in Isfahan
The municipality of Isfahan, based on hierarchy of
integrated solid waste management, employs both of the two
technologies, namely recycling and composting. However,
sanitary landfill is not considered as an alternative, because it
must be developed in whatever system being chosen and also
the use of landfills is always required no matter what
intermediate treatment process.
Beside composting, separation or recycling, there will
always be residue left that has to be deposited in landfill. In
this context, Isfahans Department of MSW has planned to
use the technology of waste incineration which has been the
key technology for MSW treatment in recent decades.
Incineration, however, requires a high amount of local waste
and financial resources. MSW contains a large portion of
organic materials for which the biotechnological processes
also offer adequate technologies.
B. Recycling Technology
The recycling process at the Isfahan plant starts with the
collection of valuable waste from waste generators, and is
followed by processing and reprocessing phases. The
recyclables are collected from curbsides, drop-off or buyback centers. Currently, the Isfahan composting and
recycling plant manually recycles the PET materials in order
to reuse some polymer materials from the waste. [1]
Recycling technology is considered to be important
because it accounts for a 20 percent reduction of the waste
that must be disposed of in landfills. There are many benefits
offered by recycling in Isfahan, such as: conserving nature,
cutting back on energy use, and increasing landfill life span.
Among the valuable materials to recycle are aluminum,
paper and cardboard, plastic, glass and metal.
C. Composting Technology in Isfahan
Composting is a controlled process where organic
material is biodegraded by microorganisms to produce the
black and stable compost. The composting process can be
done in many ways; as passives piles, turned windrow,
aerated static piles, or in-vessel systems. All the systems
have the same biological principles, but they differ in the
aeration system.




The name of
Paper, cardboard

The contents of
components to a
lump, % weight

Food waste products

Irons (metals)


Stones, ceramics
Organic matter
Nylon plastics
Hard plastics
Disposable dishes


Composting offers many benefits such as increasing the

diversion rate from the waste disposal areas (50%),
providing compost products for soil amendments, and the
promotion of an environmentally-friendly practice. In
Isfahan, composting is one of the most common practices to
handle agriculture and urban waste. However, presently,
there is just one application for municipal solid waste in the
region where compost comprises almost 70 percent of the
waste in organic materials.[1]
Isfahan MSW composting uses a mechanical process that
includes the shredding of waste and closely monitors its
condition while it is composting. MSW composting of
Isfahan greatly accelerates the process of turning organic
garbage into a soil-like material called "humus".

Based on the waste analysis (Table 2) the estimation

prognosis for caloricity value is around 4300
Kcal/kg which is attributed to the high content of
plastics in waste [6-8].

B. Description of the Technology

Grate furnace incinerator is one of the most common
technologies for incineration of MSW. It usually operates in
a gas-temperature range of 750C to 1000C. Air for
combustion is supplied by fans or blowers under and over the
grates. The main variations in this technology are associated
with the design of the grates (either fixed or moving). The
moving grates are designed to increase mixing and air flow
in the mass of burning waste in order to achieve a more
complete combustion. [2]
Moving grate energy from waste plants designed to
handle large volumes of wastes with no pre-treatment. Their
facilities typically have two or three combustion units in
which the capacities range from 100 TPD to 3000 TPD.
Modern waste-to-energy plants tend to be moving grate
incinerators: the waste is slowly propelled through the
furnace by a moving mechanical grate, and the waste
continuously enters at one end and


Incineration is a chemical process where carbon,
hydrogen, and a few elements mix together with oxygen to
produce heat energy. This technology is able to reduce
toxicity, reactivity, and high volume of waste effectively
(can divert 85% of municipal waste from disposal site).
However, it is very costly and must be operated by highly
technical experts.
The three common incineration technologies currently
available are mass burning, refuse-derived fuel, and modular
systems. As discussed before, 500 TPD of the MSW is
currently rejected from the Isfahan composting and recycling
plant and remain uncontrolled and are discharged in a
landfill site in Isfahan. With regards to the high amount of
plastics in the composition, 52.09 %, (Table 2) [5], the best
way for solving the problem is the installation of the Wastet- Energy (WTE) plant with moving grate incineration
In order to enable realistic predictions, the following
proposed project is made by taking account of the calorific
value of the contents of the waste burned in the proposed
WTE plant:
A. Technical specifications for the WTE plant in Isfahan
The technology used is moving grate incineration
Producing steam and electricity (18 MW);
Calculated capacity of the plant is around 180,000
tons RDF & MSW per year;
No humidity and calorific values;
High level of ash content is 40%;

Figure 1. Grate Incinerator

the ash is discharged at the other end. The combustion

process is also aided by gravity. As the waste descends, it
goes through three stages in the process: drying, combustion,
and burnout. Considerable attention has to be given to ensure
the necessary conditions for optimum combustion. [9]
By installing such a proposed WTE plant near the Isfahan
composting and recycling plant, all the entering waste (100%)
will be treated and therefore there is small portion of
discharge of waste to the environment. This also improves
health and sanitation conditions of the local people and
results in efficient processing of waste and a reduction in
waste volume at landfill sites. The local benefits of this
project are recycling of resources, better management of


solid waste, and producing electricity from green sources

(green energy). Since the price of the WTE plant will be
subsidized using revenues from carbon credit, the marketing
of WTE plant will become easier, and thus ensures the
sustainability of the project.
C. Technical Specifications for an Eligible Project within
the Framework of the Kyoto Protocol
The Clean Development Mechanism Projects require
sustainable development, an environmentally sound,
additionally cost-effective, and socially acceptable
management of municipal and industrial waste.
Landfilling of municipal solid waste (MSW) is known to
lead to emissions of a chemical and landfill gas, above all
methane, which contributes to the greenhouse effect. Due to
this traditional landfilling, the Iranian new law directive on
the Management of Solid Waste in 2002 mandated a gradual
reduction of biodegradable wastes to be landfilled to reduce
the production of methane gas in order to diminish global
warming and also to avoid any harmful effect on the
environment; also, residual waste has to be pre-treated prior
to landfilling. [3, 7]
As a matter of fact, Isfahan MSW composting was built
under the visions explained above and it has several
significant advantages over traditional composting. Most
importantly, Isfahan MSW composting plant can make use
of a much broader range of household wastes, including
paper and wood products and provides enough feeds for the
proposed WTE plant. At the present time, the Isfahan
Compost Facility utilizes 70 to 80% of the solid waste
generated in the city, which would normally go to a landfill,
and thereby turning today's refuse into a useable product.

gases. Since most of the content of the rejected MSW is

plastic and, according to the multidisciplinary investigation
obtained from the engineers of the Isfahan composting and
recycling plant, WTE consulting companies, and analysis of
the waste contents, it is highly recommended that a WTE
plant be constructed near Isfahan compost and recycling to
convert this remaining waste into energy, i.e. electricity.







The Isfahan composting and recycling plant contributes
to the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
through the aerobic decomposition of organic waste and also
by recycling of polymer materials like PET into re-usable
polymer materials; moreover, the MSW collected from
various zones in Isfahan were treated in Isfahan compost and
recycling plant. The main problem is 500 TPD of the MSW
rejected from the plant which is disposed in the landfill site
and leads to the anaerobic decay of biodegradable waste; this
ultimately results in methane generation among other landfill




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