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Waste and Biomass Valorization

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 429–442 | Cite as

Improving the Energy-Related Aspects of Biowaste Treatment in an Experimental Hydrothermal Carbonization Reactor

  • Christian Riuji Lohri
  • Imanol Zabaleta
  • Manuel Rohr
  • Urs Baier
  • Christian Zurbrügg
Original Paper
  • 171 Downloads

Abstract

Hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) is a thermochemical conversion process with the potential to treat the prevalent wet urban biowaste in low- and middle-income countries. The generated hydrochar solids are a hygienic, homogenized, carbon rich and energy dense product with economic value that can be used as an alternative to wood-based charcoal or fossil fuel. Obtaining a satisfactory energy efficiency of the process is, however, one of the prerequisites for the possible breakthrough of this technology. In an experimental HTC reactor, a model kitchen/market waste feedstock (17.8 MJ/kgdb) was hydrothermally carbonized with varying loading rates (TS 20 and 25 %) under mild operational conditions with peak temperatures of 160–190 °C and process times of 2–10 h above 160 °C. The aim was to evaluate the energy ratio of the process under these conditions while examining the impact on the hydrochar quality. Results show that the chemical properties of the produced hydrochar and its heating value were of moderate quality (21.1–24.4 MJ/kgdb), showing similar characteristics like torrefied products. HTC of a 25 % TS-load during 2 h at 180 °C and maximum pressure of 18.3 bar resulted in a char chemical output energy that is twice as high as the electrical energy consumed in the process. If considering the theoretical methane potential of the process water, the energy ratio could be increased to 2.6; while reactor insulation could further enhance this ratio to 3. This article reveals the merits of mild HTC and provides relevant knowledge for attaining an optimized, energy efficient HTC system.

Keywords

Organic waste Energy efficiency Energy ratio HTC Hydrochar Thermochemical conversion 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to acknowledge Zeno Robbiani and Paola Dea Marchetti for their preliminary work on HTC at Eawag/Sandec. Many thanks to the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW; Dr. Rolf Krebs, Andreas Schönborn, Gabriel Gerner, Alexander Treichler, Rahel Wanner), and the Paul Scherrer Instiute (PSI; Timon Käser) for their technical support. The financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is gratefully recognized.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Riuji Lohri
    • 1
  • Imanol Zabaleta
    • 1
  • Manuel Rohr
    • 1
  • Urs Baier
    • 2
  • Christian Zurbrügg
    • 1
  1. 1.Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Department of Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development (Sandec)DübendorfSwitzerland
  2. 2.ZHAW: Zurich University of Applied Sciences, School of Life Sciences and Facility Management, Institute of Chemistry and BiotechnologyWädenswilSwitzerland

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