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Techno-economic Feasibility of Distributed Waste-to-hydrogen Systems to Support Green Transport in Glasgow


Distributed waste-to-hydrogen (WtH) systems are a potential solution to tackle the dual challenges of sustainable waste management and zero emission transport. Here we propose a concept of distributed WtH systems based on gasification and fermentation to support hydrogen fuel cell buses in Glasgow. A variety of WtH scenarios were configured based on biomass waste feedstock, hydrogen production reactors, and upstream and downstream system components. A cost-benefit analysis (CBA) was conducted to compare the economic feasibility of the different WtH systems with that of the conventional steam methane reforming-based method. This required the curation of a database that included, inter alia, direct cost data on construction, maintenance, operations, infrastructure, and storage, along with indirect cost data comprising environmental impacts and externalities, cost of pollution, carbon taxes and subsidies. The levelized cost of hydrogen (LCoH) was calculated to be 2.22 GB P/kg for municipal solid waste gasification and 2.02 GB P/kg for waste wood gasification. The LCoHs for dark fermentation and combined dark and photo fermentation systems were calculated to be 2.15 GB P/kg and 2.29 GB P/kg. Sensitivity analysis was conducted to identify the most significant influential factors of distributed WtH systems. It was indicated that hydrogen production rates and CAPEX had the largest impact for the biochemical and thermochemical technologies, respectively. Limitations including high capital expenditure will require cost reduction through technical advancements and carbon tax on conventional hydrogen production methods to improve the outlook for WtH development.

Funding source: The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Studentship (EP/N509668/1) and Programme Grant (EP/V030515/1).
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United Kingdom

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