Torrefaction of landfill food waste for possible application in biomass co-firing

G. Pahla, F. Ntuli, E. Muzenda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Greenhouse gas emissions and municipal solid waste management have presented challenges globally. This study aims to produce a high-quality biochar with properties close to bituminous coal from landfill food waste (FW). FW was analyzed by proximate and ultimate analyses to determine its fuel properties and elemental composition before torrefaction. Temperature was varied from 200 to 300 °C at a constant residence time of 40 min and 10 °C/min heating rate. Calorific value, mass yield, energy yield and energy density were computed and used to determine the quality of the resulting biochar. Quality of raw food waste was also determined by elemental analysis. Thermal evolution was then investigated using hyphenated Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA) and Fourier Transform Infra-Red Spectrometry (FTIR). Torrefaction was done at 225 °C, 275 °C and 300 °C. The calorific value was upgraded from 19.76 MJ/kg for dried raw food waste to 26.15 MJ/kg for torrefied food waste at the appropriate conditions which were 275 °C, 40 min and 10 °C/min. The higher heating value was comparable to that of bituminous coal from Anglo Mafube in South Africa. Elemental analysis of biochar showed an increase in carbon content with temperature due to loss of oxygen containing volatiles. This agreed with TG curves and FTIR spectra which confirmed release of H2O, CO and CO2. This resulted in a more hydrophobic solid fuel with high energy density. Food waste can therefore be upgraded to a biochar with similar fuel properties as pulverized coal used in coal fired boilers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-520
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Waste Management and Disposal


Dive into the research topics of 'Torrefaction of landfill food waste for possible application in biomass co-firing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this