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Babu Alappat, Ph.D Professor Department of Civil Engineering I.I.T. Delhi, Hauz Khas New Delhi, India 110 016.

Solid Waste Engineering

Dealing with Solid Waste: It is More Management than Engineering This may be true..but management alone cannot solve the problem, for sure.

Various Solid Wastes and their Management in India

Municipal Solid waste (MSW): Municipal Solid
Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2000

Biomedical waste (Healthcare waste):

Biomedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2002

Hazardous (Industrial) wastes: hazardous Waste

(Management and Handling) Rules 1998, 2000, 2002

Nuclear Wastes: Nuclear Waste (Management and

Handling) Rules 1998

E-waste draft rules are ready Agro-wastes:

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

MSW = Trash+Rubbish+Refuse+Garbage MSW is the waste that is collected in the municipal bins / containers Sources of MSW: Domestics, hotels, markets, offices, commercial establishments,etc. It does not contain Wastes from: Hospitals, Industries, nuclear installations, etc.

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

It is consistently INCONSISTENT Design of the treatment facilities is difficult It is not hazardous; but the problem is its very large Quantity/Volume It is a problem in Cities / Towns / Municipalities; but not a big issue in Villages / Rural areas The problem is MSW can be seen and smelled

MSW Generation Rate

Generation rate varies from season to season, place to place It depends upon the affluence, season, education, living habits, traditions, etc. In India: 0.15 kg/person/day in rural areas 0.40 kg/person/day in urban areas Possible to estimate the total quantity generated


Waste Collection and Storage Waste Transportation Recovery through Sorting & Recycling Recovery through Processing (Biological or Thermal Route) Waste Transformation (Volume reduction, Toxicity reduction, etc.) Final Disposal


1. Waste minimization at source 2. Material Recycling 3. Waste Processing (Energy / Material recovery) 4. Waste Transformation (no recovery) 5. Land-filling

Sorting and Materials Recovery

Sorting: separating/segregation of various components Sorting can be done at any stage Primary Sorting: at any stage (rag pickers) Secondary Sorting: sorting on the primary sorted materials (kabaris, middlemen) Tertiary Sorting: sorting on the secondary sorted materials (for recycling)

Storage of MSW at Source

Use containers (buckets, plastic bins, metal bins, plastic bags) with or without lids Containers without lids can store the waste only for a day; not beyond Capacity 15 lit for a family of 5 members Have two containers: one for biodegradable wastes and the other for recyclables Domestic haz. wastes should be dealt separately

Primary Collection of MSW

Removing waste from the storage at sources/street sweeping In India, door-to-door collection exists only at a few places In Indian condition, the biodegradable wastes are to be collected everyday Handcarts or tricycles may be used Instead of the traditional ones, a handcart having 4-6 detachable containers (30-40 lit capacity each) can be used

MSW Storage Depots

Wastes collected (primary collection) go to the large municipal depots the collection vehicles carry the waste from these depots for treatment/transformation The depots must be suiting the primary collection system and the transportation vehicles. Depots should be properly positioned along the road side

For container size 3-10 m3 capacity, distance between 2 depots should not be more than 500m Shorter distance for smaller depots: 1 m3 Container size depends upon the density of the waste and the quantity of waste produced In India: density is about 500 kg/ m3 1 tonne MSW requires about 2 m3 volume Provide double the capacity calculated

Height of the depot should be less than 1 m Stationary type and hauling type Stationary type depot: shall be emptied to the vehicle hauling type depot shall be taken along with the vehicle or emptied to the truck mechanically The containers that are pulled along shall have wheels Life of large containers: 8 to 10 years Life of large handcarts: 4 to 5 years

Transportation of MSW
Transportation vehicles should be compatible with the storage depots vehicles either empty the depot (manually or mechanically) or haul it along with Manual loading: unhygienic/inefficient/time consuming Loader loading: spoils the floor/walls of the depot Ordinary truck capacity: 5 tonnes/trip

Vehicles can carry the containers or pull along with them Vehicles can have compaction arrangement; but may not be useful if the density is very high like 500 kg/m3 TRANSFER STATIONS are required if the disposal site/treatment facility is far away (>10km) From these stations, larger capacity vehicles (15 to 20 m3) carry the waste rather than many small vehicles creating more pollution and traffic problems

Routing of MSW collection vehicles

This is for: minimizing the distance of transport minimizing the time of transport minimizing the pollution during transportation minimizing the traffic jams and other inconveniences

Minimize the disntance of transport

Two basic approaches: The Chinese Postman Problem (arc routing) Finding the minimum distance of a continuous tour through the network that travels all the arcs (roads) The traveling salesman problem (node routing) Finding the minimum distance of a continuous tour through the network visiting all the nodes (container locations)

For MSW collection & transportation: the 2nd method

Node routing: to construct a tour through n points keeping the total distance minimum It is difficult to solve. Three methods to solve it 1. The Exhaustive procedure 2. Heuristic algorithm

The Exhaustive Procedure

Number the nodes (container locations) with integers 1 to n Generate all permutations of the first (n-1) positive integers; that is (n-1)! For each permutation, tour is constructed and its cost/distance/time is computed The tour having the least cost (or distance or time) is chosen

Heuristic Algorithm
Based on the Hill climbing idea (at each node, find out the next cheapest node to visit) Here the problem is: it picks up cheap nodes in the beginning; but towards the end, it may have to go for very expensive nodes. To avoid this: repeat the algorithm for the same initial nodes going back taking the cheapest route. Then compare the cheapest route.


Biological route: the most acceptable option

Composting Vermi-composting

Chemical Route: not popular for MSW Physico-chemical Route: not popular for MSW Thermal Route: Costliest; but rapid
Incineration Gasification Pyrolysis

Composting of MSW
Composting: organized method of producing compost by adopting and accelerating the natural decomposition phenomenon Compost : an organic manure containing N,P,K and other micro-nutrients Compost should be used with other chemical fertilizers for optimum results

Composting: aerobic or anaerobic Aerobic composting: using aerobic microorganisms, end products are CO2, nitrates, etc Carbon is the source of energy exothermic reaction and temp. rises all pathogens are killed overall, it takes 2-4 months no foul smell

Air required for aerobic composting

Ca Hb Oc Nd + [(4a+b-2c-3d)/4] O2 + [(b-3d)/2] H2O + dNH3 Oxidation of NH3: H2O + HNO3 NH3 + 2O2 Total Oxygen required: summation of both aCO2

Anaerobic composting:
using anaerobic microorganisms reduction reaction end products are CH4, CO2, etc temperature does not increases pathogens are not killed it takes 4 to 6 months odour problem large space requirements

Factors affecting Aerobic Composting

Microorganisms Shredding of refuse C/N ratio Temperature Moisture content Windrow details Aeration/turning

In the aerobic systems, there are many organisms actively participating ! bacteria, actnomycetes, fungi, others In the initial stages: mostly mesophilic form (temp 30 to 40 oC) In the final stages: mostly thermophilic bacteria and fungi (60 to 70 oC)

Bacteria: breaks down mostly protein and other organic matter Fungi and Actinomycetes decomposes lignin and cellulose Most of the organisms for composting are readily available in the MSW itself. But there are inoculums and enzymes claiming to hasten composting. This is required for sure for agricultural and industrial wastes

Shredding of the MSW

For better bacterial invasion Shredding destroy the natural resistance of the vegetation to microbial invasion Provides larger surface area Better availability of oxygen Uniform and rapid decomposition Materials become more homogeneous Better fly control/moisture control

Desirable size for composting: less than 2 inch Material size governs (to certain extent) the size of the finished product Compost for flower gardens/lawn: < 1 cm

C/N ratio
C/N ratio available is important as all C present may not be available for degradation For rapid composting, initial C/N ratio of the waste = 30 is ideal. (range 26 to 31) If C/N ratio is >>30, add N sources like blood, sewage sludge, slaughter house wastes, etc. If C/N ratio is <<30, add C sources like straw, saw dust, paper, etc. For the finished compost product: C/N ratio = 20 is the best

If C/N ratio is >>20, robbing of nitrogen takes place. There shall be a delay for the availability of N to the plants. This is because the excess C tend to use N in the soil to build cell protoplasm. If C/N ratio is <<20, that compost cannot improve the soil structure considerably.

MSW has good insulation properties; so the temperature shoots up in aerobic composting. It may increase to 65 to 70 oC. But optimum temp is 50 to 60 oC If temp is > 70 oC, it may inactivate the enzymes/organisms All pathogens shall be killed if 50 to 60 oC is maintained for 5-7 days No temp. rise in anaerobic composting

Moisture Content
Optimum : 50 to 60 % by weight If moisture is considerably less than the optimum, the physiological needs of the organisms are not met. If moisture is considerably greater than the optimum, pores may be blocked affecting the oxygen supply. System may turn anaerobic If moisture is < 40%, just add water No composting if moisture is < 12 %

Windrow Dimensions
For aerobic composting, materials should be loosely packed. If windrow height is too much, self weight causes some compression and the pore space reduces If windrow height is too low, heat loss will be high and temperature goes below optimum Height can be more in cold season/countries For MSW, height shall not be more than 1.5 to 1.8 m and not less than 1 to 1.2 m (or simple windrows), width: 2.4 m to 3.6 m

Height is in between 1.8 to 2.7 m for the windrows with air circulation arrangement at the center. In this case, width is 3.6 m to 6.1 m Turning / mixing equipment also decides the height of the windrows

Finished Product - Compost

Colour: black brown or black Odour: earthy Crumbly in nature Weight: about 50 % of the original waste It is neither very dry nor watery N,P,K content > 1% (each) C/N ratio about 20

MSW Compost Plant

Major expenditure (capital and operational) is for the SEPERATION of the biodegradable from the inerts An array of separation techniques may be required Separation may be carried after or before Composting

Air Classification

To separate light materials For ferrous metals

Magnetic Separator


Size Separation

Manual Separation

Materials that can be hand picked

Many compost plants are likely to come up in future This is a promising technology for MSW management. .However.. There should be a better market for the compost Subsidize the price of compost Hike the price of chemical fertilizers

Vermi-Composting (Rapid Composting)

Bio-degradable are degraded by the earthworms Earthworms feed on the organic matter. During the passage through the worms alimentary canal, it is converted to a simpler humus rich material due to the action of the enzymatic secretions and bacteria. Earthworms are effectively used for maximizing the growth of aerobic bacteria Residence time: 30 days (one month)

They are invertebrates, Phylum: Annelida More than 3000 species In India, there are about 500 species Only surface dwelling earthworms are useful a composters Deep burrowing type is not preferred Most suitable species: Eudrilus Eugeinae, Eisenia Foetida and Perionyx Excavatus

This is the excreta of earthworms. It is rich in the following: organic C - 9 to 18% total N - 0.5 to 0.9 % available phosphorus - 0.1 to 0.26 % available potassium - 0.15 to 0.56 % available sodium - 0.05 to 0.30 % Ca & Mg, Cu, Fe, Zn, S, etc

+ and of vermi-composting
Simple to construct and operate No mechanical/electrical parts Minimum cost High process stability Elimination of pathogens Large land requirements Uncertainty and lack of understanding Slow nature

Vermi-Composting is a viable and ecofriendly technology for MSW management But mostly feasible for small community or campus There should be a good market for vermicompost for self-sustainability of a vermicompost project

Incineration of MSW

Combustion (controlled burning) of wastes in properly designed and constructed furnace to sterile ash with proper care for air pollution and water pollution.

The prime objective of incineration is WASTE DESTRUCTION not power generation

Advantageous of Incineration
Incineration is a total destruction process, if carried out properly. The incineration residue, if any, is free of any organic or other biologically active material. Modern incinerators can burn a great variety of waste materials under different conditions of temperature. Adverse weather condition has no effect on incineration. Potential for large scale energy recovery. Faster than Biological / Chemical techniques More reliable and fool-proof Useful when other technologies fail to do the job

Disadvantageous of Incineration
Large initial investment. High operational cost May lead to air pollution problem due to improper operation and incomplete reduction of waste material if not designed and operated with adequate care. High fuel consumption may be required for wet solids or for maintaining high temperature for the complete destruction of stable components. Possibility of the emission of Dioxins and Furans and PAHs, etc.

Waste/ Coal
FD Fan

Aux Fuel
Waste /Coal Feeding

Waste /Coal Preparation


Flue Gas

Gas out Bottom Ash

Heat Recovery


Acidic Gas Removal

Particle Removal


ID Fan

For treatment & disposal


Stocker / Grates Type Rotary Kiln Type Fixed Hearth Multiple Hearth Cyclonic Fluidized Bed MSW Mass Burning Any type of waste Biomedical wastes Sewage Sludge High heat content Any kind of waste


Pollutant Removed % Removal

Pressure Drop Inches of Water Column 0.5 to 1 3 to 4 10 to 50

Settling Chamber Multiple Cyclones Venturi Scrubber

Large particles Particles Particles & acidic gases like HCl, SO2 Aerosols & acidic gases Fine particles Fine particles

0 to 30 % 30 to 80 % 80 to 96 %

Packed scrubber ESP Fabric Filter bag House

80 to 96 % 90 to 97 % 97 to 99.9 %

6 to 8 0.5 to 1 2 to 8

Thermal Properties of Indian MSW

For self-sustaining combustion, there should be a heat content of atleast 2500 kcal/kg. Usually below 1500 kcal/kg, it is not recommended for incineration
Indian MSW is infamous for its low heat content (700 to 1000 kcal/kg) high moisture content (30 to 55 % by weight) & high inert contents (30 to 50 % by weight)

These make it a poor candidate for direct incineration.

Incineration of MSW is not popular in India But Incineration is very famous (in fact, infamous) for the treatment of Biomedical wastes It is also extensively used for the treatment of hazardous wastes in India

Biomedical Waste Incineration

Only infectious wastes go for Incineration Mostly using Double Chambered Fixed Hearth type Rules do not specify the type of Incinerator Rules specify only the emission limits

It is only about 13 20% of the total waste To be collected in YELLOW bags in India It contains: contaminated cotton, paper, body parts, tissues, cultures, etc It goes for incineration Contaminated needles, chlorinated plastics, rubber take a different route

Biomedical waste Incinerator Performance is Unsatisfactory

Reasons for that: Improper handling of the unit Lack of waste segregation Batch operation of the unit Excess capacity of the Unit Lack of mixing (Turbulence) Absence of Air Pollution Control Equipments The Fixed Hearth type incinerators cannot give high combustion efficiency

Remedial Measures Suggested

Proper Segregation of Wastes Continuous operation as far as possible Central Facilities rather than small individual units Avoid excess capacity Install Air Pollution Control Equipments Operate Primary Chamber in the Starved Air Mode and the Secondary in the Excess Air Mode

This is un-avoidable This comes at the end of the entire solid waste management system Even after composting or vermi-composting or incineration, some thing always remain for the burial In India, mostly MSW goes straight to a landfill

Engineered Landfills
Sanitary Landfills for MSW Secured Landfills for hazardous wastes Designated Landfills for a typical waste Sustainable Landfill new concept

How is Leachate Removed

Drainage Pipe
Leacha te Collecti o n Syste m


Liner is sloped ~ 2-8%

Leachate is then sent to Treatment and/or Storage Facility


Leachate Storage Treatment

Gravity Drainage

Pump Station

Landfill Gas is Typically Extracted to a Blower-Flare Station

Gas Wells


Blower Flare Station

Note: Must Drain Condensate

We rarely have Engineered Landfills Most of the Landfills are actually Land Dumps These dumps do not have Leachate and Gas Collection Arrangements No proper Cover and monitoring mechanism after the closure

Land-dump can inflict serious damage to the ground water, surface water and ambient air in the near by areas Also it causes damage to the flora and fauna and aesthetics of the area All new facilities to dispose waste have to be Engineered landfills