MSW Management Editorial Advisory Board Member, Dr. Eugene Tseng, has conducted MSW Management training courses under the auspices of UCLA’s Extension system and CalRecycle (formerly the California Integrated Waste Management Board)—aimed principally at working professionals in the field. But last week I was privileged to get a glimpse of his Master's of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering Course) level course for students at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), providing much the same curriculum, the results of which, were nothing short of stunning.
In the particular exercise, two four-student teams were tasked with developing the facilities and program designs for a MRF and waste conversion systems to meet certain challenges, as follows:
Municipal Solid Waste Management And Engineering Design
Fall 2011 Class Project
The city of Wonderland is currently collecting and disposes of about 300 tons per day of residential waste. A waste composition study has been preformed, and the results are provided in the attachment (the composition is the same as the city of Los Angeles residential waste). The city of Wonderland currently owns a transfer station that is used to transport the trash to a city-owned landfill that will be closing in five years.
You are the “recycling specialist” for the city of Wonderland. The city has achieved a 50% recycling rate in the year 2010. Your mayor has set a new diversion goal of achieving at least 90% diversion from landfills within five years. The purpose of the new goal is to try to recover additional recyclables from the disposed wastestream, to recover any potential renewable energy that could be extracted from the disposed solid waste stream, and to minimize the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from landfills. If possible, a “zero landfill disposal” goal is the ultimate goal. The city of Wonderland would like to be able to “import” some city of Los Angeles’ residential “black bin waste” to supplement the trash volumes for the city of Wonderland to make the overall costs more economical (economy of scale).
Your assignment will be to develop a conceptual project description that will accomplish the mayor’s goals, (as close as possible to zero disposal to landfill). Develop a project concept that utilizes biological processes and one or more thermal technologies. You will need to design the “front end” processing needed to “optimize” the (wet and dry) feedstocks to each technology so as to minimize the emissions and other environmental impacts (take out the non-acceptables and non-processibles too). There is an adjacent 30-acre piece of land next to the city-owned landfill that the city has dedicated for this project.
Your project group will do an oral presentation before a “Technical Review Board” comprising industry, government, and technical experts and political representatives, as well as members of our advisory board.
Each presentation must have the following:
* Present the basic concept and assumptions.
* Flowchart to show the “unit processes” and the sequencing for progressive fractionization.
* Describe what happens at each of the unit processes, what materials go where…how materials gets concentrated (progressive fractionization).
* Estimated “mass balance” for your flowchart
* Describe the output / products, e.g., energy, compost, ash, etc.
* Address the issue of the volatile recycling markets, e.g., what happens if recycling markets plummet again or become non-existent. (Describe how your facility addresses this issue.)
* Describe the difference between “incineration” and “gasification.”
* Describe how this project is compatible with the “source reduction / recycling infrastructure.”
* Describe how this facility should be designed (what features) to be a “community based” facility.
* Have a “binder” with backup materials for the detailed explanations.
* Provide handouts of your presentation to each individual member of the panel.
* Each person of each team must participate in the presentation.
* Be ready to answer questions at the end of your session.
* Dress appropriately for the presentation.
Each team will have 30–40 minutes to make the oral presentation using Microsoft PowerPoint, and there will be 10 minutes afterward for questions and answers. Note: This will be videotaped. Set up additional project meetings if necessary. (You will have class time each class.)
Describe what you would have done differently from the group approach. If you agreed with the group design, please describe what other technologies could have been utilized. This can be handed in at a much later date (after the oral presentation).
During its allotted hour, each of the teams made their presentations and then answered questions posed by the review panel, all of whom seemed as amazed as I at the amount of knowledge the students possessed given their lack of experience in the field. As impressed as I was by their performance, however, what really caught my attention was the level of enthusiasm for the project and the coursework they displayed.
My question is, how well would you have performed the assignment?