Is MSW derived DME a viable clean cooking fuel in Kolkata, India?

Johannes Grové, Paul A. Lant, Chris R. Greig, Simon Smart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


An important energy poverty reduction initiative in India is aimed at replacing the use of solid cooking fuels with cleaner burning Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). Projections suggest however that India will become increasingly dependent on LPG imports, the cost of which is strongly linked to the prevailing oil price and associated volatility. Dimethyl ether (DME) is a synthetic fuel which may be manufactured from domestically available carbonaceous feedstocks, and is compatible with blending with LPG. Very large quantities of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) are generated in India's metropolitan cities, 90% of which is disposed of onto unsanitary landfills, creating major environmental and health concerns. This article investigates the techno-economic merits of reducing these impacts by using a portion of the MSW generated in Kolkata (in the form of a Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF)) to produce DME. Results suggest that the production of DME from a 50:50 blend of locally available coal and RDF (comprising 10% of the MSW placed at Kolkata's main landfill) will enable the supply of a clean cooking fuel to approximately 15% of Kolkata's population, and become cost competitive with imported LPG at an Indian basket oil price of $130 per barrel. Results also suggest that, at this blend ratio, the fossil fuel derived greenhouse gas emissions at the DME production plant will be more than offset by landfill methane emissions avoided using the RDF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-60
Number of pages11
JournalRenewable Energy
StatePublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


  • Cooking
  • Dimethyl ether
  • Refuse derived fuel


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