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Rapid Growth of WTE in China: Current Performance and Impediments to Future Growth

[+] Author Affiliations
Ling Qiu, Yani Dong, Nickolas J. Themelis

Columbia University, New York, NY

Paper No. NAWTEC20-7062, pp. 167-175; 9 pages
  • 20th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference
  • 20th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference
  • Portland, Maine, USA, April 23–25, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Materials and Energy Recovery Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4483-0
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


China has the largest population (1.33 billion) on Earth and a 2010 GDP of $5.4 trillion. This nation has experienced rapid economic growth in the last decade that has been accompanied by the generation of an enormous amount of municipal solid wastes. From 2000 to 2009, the reported MSW increased by 33% to 157 million tons. This paper presents the current situation in MSW generation, characterization, and means of disposal, based on the results of studies by WTERT (www.wtert.org) in China. The landfills serving the large cities of China are reaching or have already reached full capacity and there is strong government support for the waste to energy (WTE) alternative, resulting in over 90 WTE plants built or under construction. The thermal treatment technologies are based mostly on imported or domestic grate combustion technologies and on fluid bed combustion of shredded wastes. Of particular interest to the WTERT studies have been the Air Pollution Control systems used in Chinese plants and their performance, in particular the dioxin and furan levels attained, in view of continuing public opposition to WTE in Beijing and some other cities. The cities of Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing were visited to examine any obstacles to further expansion of the WTE industry in China. There are extreme differences in the composition of MSW as well as waste management from region to region. It is believed that one of the reasons for public opposition to WTE projects is inadequate transparency as to the emissions of WTE plants. Also, it appears that some WTE facilities tend to cut down costs at the expense of adequate emission control. The paper concludes with discussion of the economics of Chinese WTE plants built in the last six years.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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