In this study, the environmental impacts of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) treatment and its conversion in anaerobic digestion to glycerol tertiary butyl ether (GTBE) were assessed. The production process is a part of the innovative project of a municipal waste treatment plant. The BioRen project is funded by the EU’s research and innovation program H2020. A consortium has been set up to implement the project and to undertake specific activities to achieve the expected results. The project develops the production of GTBE which is a promising fuel additive for both diesel and gasoline. It improves engine performance and reduces harmful exhaust emissions. At the same time, the project focuses on using non-recyclable residual organic waste to produce this ether additive.
The aim of this paper is the evaluation through Life Cycle Assessment of the environmental impact GTBE production in comparison with a production of other fuels. To quantify the environmental impacts of GTBE production, the ILCD 2011 Midpoint+ v.1.10 method was considered. The study models the production of GTBE, including the sorting and separation of municipal solid waste (MSW), pre-treatment of organic content, anaerobic fermentation, distillation, catalytic dehydration of isobutanol to isobutene, etherification of GTBE with isobutene and hydrothermal carbonization (HTC).
The results indicate that unit processes: sorting and hydrothermal carbonization mostly affect the environment. Moreover, GTBE production resulted in higher environmental impact than the production of conventional fuels.