Techno-Economic Analysis and Life Cycle Assessment of Mixed Plastic Waste Gasification for Production of Methanol and Hydrogen

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Plastic waste management is an area of concern globally, given the accumulation of plastics in landfills and the natural environment. Gasification can convert mixed plastic waste (MPW) to synthesis gas (syngas), a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2), which can be further converted to commodity chemicals. In this work, we present techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) for two gasification pathways that produce methanol and hydrogen from MPW feedstock. In particular, we modeled the gasifier as a dual fluidized bed reactor for MPW gasification in a greenfield, standalone facility. Our analysis indicates that the minimum selling price (MSP) of methanol and hydrogen produced by MPW gasification is $0.70 kg−1 and $3.41 kg−1, respectively. For comparison, we also evaluate the production of methanol and hydrogen from municipal solid waste. For MPW gasification processes, the syngas yield (kg syngas per kg plastic) and waste plastic feedstock price have the largest impact on MSP. Waste plastic feedstock prices of <$0.02 kg−1 can enable MPW-based processes to achieve cost parity with existing fossil-fuel-derived pathways. Additionally, LCA indicates that methanol and hydrogen produced from MPW gasification can reduce the total supply chain energy use by 52% and 56% respectively when compared with fossil-fuel-derived pathways. However, the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from MPW-gasification pathways are estimated to increase by 166% and 36% for methanol and hydrogen, respectively, compared to their current production pathways. Due to the co-product credit of steam and electricity export, MPW gasification pathways have lower levels of smog formation, acidification, non-carcinogenics, ozone depletion, eutrophication and particulates than the respective incumbent processes. Since waste streams are the feedstocks in this study, no energy burden was assigned to the upstream processes. Overall, this work identifies syngas yield and waste plastic feedstock price as the two critical variables with the largest impact on the MSP of products produced by MPW gasification. The outcomes of this work can help guide future research in MPW gasification.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5068-5085
Number of pages18
JournalGreen Chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2A00-83095


  • gasification
  • hydrogen
  • LCA
  • methanol
  • mixed plastic waste
  • municipal solid waste
  • TEA


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