Life cycle comparison of waste-to-energy alternatives for municipal waste treatment in Chilean Patagonia

Alberto Bezama, Carla Douglas, Jacqueline Méndez, Nóra Szarka, Edmundo Muñoz, Rodrigo Navia, Steffen Schock, Odorico Konrad, Claudia Ulloa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The energy system in the Region of Aysén, Chile, is characterized by a strong dependence on fossil fuels, which account for up to 51% of the installed capacity. Although the implementation of waste-to-energy concepts in municipal waste management systems could support the establishment of a more fossil-independent energy system for the region, previous studies have concluded that energy recovery systems are not suitable from an economic perspective in Chile. Therefore, this work intends to evaluate these technical options from an environmental perspective, using life cycle assessment as a tool for a comparative analysis, considering Coyhaique city as a case study. Three technical alternatives were evaluated: (i) landfill gas recovery and flaring without energy recovery; (ii) landfill gas recovery and energy use; and (iii) the implementation of an anaerobic digestion system for the organic waste fraction coupled with energy recovery from the biogas produced. Mass and energy balances of the three analyzed alternatives have been modeled. The comparative LCA considered global warming potential, abiotic depletion and ozone layer depletion as impact categories, as well as required raw energy and produced energy as comparative regional-specific indicators. According to the results, the use of the recovered landfill gas as an energy source can be identified as the most environmentally appropriate solution for Coyhaique, especially when taking into consideration the global impact categories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalWaste Management and Research
Issue number10 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Coyhaique
  • Life cycle assessment
  • MSW management
  • Patagonia
  • Waste-to-energy alternatives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Pollution


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