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Effects of process parameters on hydrothermal carbonization
AuthorUddin, Md Helal
AdvisorCoronella, Charles J.
Chemical and Materials Engineering
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In recent years there has been increased research activity in renewable energy, especially upgrading widely available lignicellulosic biomass, in a bid to counter the increasing environmental concerns related with the use of fossil fuels. Hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), also known as wet torrefaction or hot water pretreatment, is a process for pretreatment of diverse lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks, where biomass is treated under subcritical water conditions in short contact time to produce high-value products. The products of this process are: a solid mass characterized as biochar/biocoal/biocarbon, which is homogeneous, energy dense, and hydrophobic; a liquid stream composed of five and six carbon sugars, various organic acids, and 5-HMF; and a gaseous stream, mainly CO2. A number of process parameters are considered important for the extensive application of the HTC process. Primarily, reaction temperature determines the characteristics of the products. In the solid product, the oxygen carbon ratio decreases with increasing reaction temperature and as a result, HTC biochar has the similar characteristics to low rank coal. However, liquid and gaseous stream compositions are largely correlated with the residence time. Biomass particle size can also limit the reaction kinetics due to the mass transfer effect. Recycling of process water can help to minimize the utility consumption and reduce the waste treatment cost as a result of less environmental impact. Loblolly pine was treated in hot compressed water at 200 °C, 230 °C, and 260 °C with 5:1 water:biomass mass ratio to investigate the effects of process parameters on HTC. The solid product were characterized by their mass yields, higher heating values (HHV), and equilibrium moisture content (EMC), while the liquid were characterized by their total organic carbon content and pH value.