The status of waste management and waste to energy for district heating in South Korea

A. C. (Thanos) Bourtsalas, Yoonjung Seo, Md Tanvir Alam, Yong Chil Seo

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26 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on waste management and waste to energy (WTE) for district heating in S. Korea. The chemical formula for the materials disposed of in volume base waste fee (VBWF) bags that are processed in WTE plants was calculated as: C 6 H 9.9 O 2.3 , with a heat of formation of 27.6 MJ/kg. The average heating value for the 35 WTE plants was 9.7 MJ/kg, and the average amount of energy recovered was calculated at 1.5 MWh/ton waste processed. 22 of the 35 WTE plants comply with the limits of the R1 formula for energy recovery plants (R1 > 0.61), as introduced by the EU. It was estimated that 8% of the district heating demand is provided by WTE in S. Korea. WTE plants can contribute to about 0.6% to the total electricity demand of S. Korea and aid the efforts of the nation to phase out the dependence on fossil fuels. The average dioxin emissions of all WTE plants were 0.005 ng TEQ/Nm 3 (limit:0.1 ng TEQ/Nm 3 ), and most of the other pollutants examined indicated a ten-fold to hundred-fold lower emissions than the national and the EU standards. S. Korea indicated an improved performance in sustainable waste management, with combined recycling/ composting and WTE rates of about 80%, as compared to the average of the EU-28 with 65%, and the US with 36.5%, even if the EU and the US had higher GDP/capita (PPP) than S. Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-316
Number of pages13
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Global WTERT Council ( Columbia University ) and was initiated based on the thesis by Y. Seo ( , Publications), Earth Engineering Center, Columbia University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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