Heat Value

Table 10.3.5 shows the heat value of typical MSW based on the results of laboratory testing of MSW components. Calculations of the heat value based on energy output measurements at operating combustion facilities generally yield lower values (see Section 10.5).

The heat value shown for solid waste and conventional fuels in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom is typically the higher heating value (HHV). The HHV includes the latent heat of vaporization of the water created during combustion. When this heat is deducted, the result is called the lower heating value (LHV). For additional information see Niessen (1995).

The as-received heat value is roughly proportional to the percentage of waste that is combustible (i.e., neither moisture nor ash) and to the carbon content of the combustible fraction. The heat values of the plastics categories are highest because of their high carbon content, low ash content, and low-to-moderate moisture content. Paper categories have intermediate heat values because of their intermediate carbon content, moderate moisture content, and low-to-moderate ash content. Yard waste, food waste, and disposable diapers have low heat values because of their high moisture levels.

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