Novel integrated mechanical biological chemical treatment (MBCT) systems for the production of levulinic acid from fraction of municipal solid waste: A comprehensive techno-economic analysis

Bioresour Technol. 2016 Sep;215:131-143. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2016.04.030. Epub 2016 Apr 9.


This paper, for the first time, reports integrated conceptual MBCT/biorefinery systems for unlocking the value of organics in municipal solid waste (MSW) through the production of levulinic acid (LA by 5wt%) that increases the economic margin by 110-150%. After mechanical separation recovering recyclables, metals (iron, aluminium, copper) and refuse derived fuel (RDF), lignocelluloses from remaining MSW are extracted by supercritical-water for chemical valorisation, comprising hydrolysis in 2wt% dilute H2SO4 catalyst producing LA, furfural, formic acid (FA), via C5/C6 sugar extraction, in plug flow (210-230°C, 25bar, 12s) and continuous stirred tank (195-215°C, 14bar, 20min) reactors; char separation and LA extraction/purification by methyl isobutyl ketone solvent; acid/solvent and by-product recovery. The by-product and pulping effluents are anaerobically digested into biogas and fertiliser. Produced biogas (6.4MWh/t), RDF (5.4MWh/t), char (4.5MWh/t) are combusted, heat recovered into steam generation in boiler (efficiency: 80%); on-site heat/steam demand is met; balance of steam is expanded into electricity in steam turbines (efficiency: 35%).

Keywords: Biorefinery process simulation in Aspen Plus©; Circular economy; Combined heat and power (CHP); Metal and energy and material resource recovery from MSW; Municipal solid waste management; Refuse derived fuel (RDF) and compost like output (CLO); Value analysis and discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Biofuels
  • Charcoal / chemistry
  • Garbage
  • Levulinic Acids / chemical synthesis*
  • Lignin / chemistry
  • Metals / chemistry
  • Recycling
  • Solid Waste
  • Sulfuric Acids / chemistry


  • Biofuels
  • Levulinic Acids
  • Metals
  • Solid Waste
  • Sulfuric Acids
  • biochar
  • lignocellulose
  • Charcoal
  • Lignin
  • sulfuric acid