Partial Oxidation of Solid Organic Wastes
Shuster, William W.
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A study has been made of the possibility of utilizing the organic content of solid municipal waste by reforming high molecular weight organic compounds into simpler compounds of economic interest. Major components of waste such as paper and leaves have been investigated. In addition, a dried sewage sludge used as a soil conditioner and containing a large amount of organic matter was also studied. Reforming of organic molecules in the solid waste was accomplished by a process of partial combustion. Finely divided waste was supported as a fluidized bed in an air-nitrogen stream containing less oxygen than that required for complete combustion. Heat was supplied electrically through the walls of the reactor to supplement the exothermic heat of reaction. Gaseous products of reaction evolved from the reactor were condensed and collected in a series of traps held at progressively lower temperatures. The fractions obtained included a tar fraction, an aqueous solution, liquid organics, and a fraction of uncondensed gases. Analytical methods which were applied and utilized in the examination and identification of major components in the complex mixtures included wet chemical methods, gas chromatography used in conjunction with peak attenuation and a syringe reaction technique, infrared spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy. Runs were made in a temperature range of 250 degrees Celsius to 1000 degrees Celsius and with air-nitrogen mixtures that ranged from 0% air to 100% air. Products which were obtained and identified included water, acetic acid, formic acid, formaldehyde, methanol, acetone, toluene, acetaldehyde, methyl acetate, ethyl vinyl ether, methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, propylene, ethylene, ammonia, ammonium, carbonate and hydrogen. Many of the same products were found in all runs made. In general, runs with high air-nitrogen ratios favored the formation of more highly oxygenated compounds, while low air-nitrogen ratio promoted the formation of hydrocarbons.