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Incorporating hydrothermal liquefaction into wastewater treatment – Part I: Process optimization for energy recovery and evaluation of product distribution

Abstract : The treatment of significant amounts of municipal sewage sludge requires novel and efficient technologies. This study evaluated hydrothermal liquefaction as a means to sustainably convert sludge waste into a renewable energy source – biocrude, which can mitigate both environmental and energy-related challenges. Response surface methodology was employed to investigate the effects of reaction temperature (290–360 °C) and residence time (0–30 min) on product yield and biocrude quality. Both the highest and the lowest reaction temperature or residence time had negative effects on biocrude yield and energy recovery (ER), while high reaction severities improved biocrude quality. Under optimized conditions (332 °C for 16.9 min), biocrude yield (48.9%, dry ash-free) and ER (70.8%) were maximized. Biocrude composition followed the order of N-heterocycles > O-heterocycles > hydrocarbons, while nitrogenous compounds reduced, and hydrocarbons increased with reaction temperature. More distillable fractions in biocrude were also produced at higher reaction severities. The possible reaction pathways of biocrude formation were discussed and updated to include catalytic effects on inherent metals and Brønsted (acidic and basic) sites. The high content of O (7.8–13.1%), N (4.4–4.9%), and TAN (48.6–63.6 mg KOH/g) suggested the necessity of biocrude upgrading. Separating and recycling trace metals (e.g., 497–656 mg/kg Fe) from biocrude are necessary to relieve upgrading challenges. C, N, and P were mostly distributed into HTL biocrude, aqueous, and hydrochar, respectively, allowing their recovery. Most metals were concentrated in hydrochar. The results contribute to the advancement of the state of the art in biorefinery, which will guide the design of full-scale HTL sludge treatment systems combining resource recovery
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Submitted on : Friday, July 15, 2022 - 9:20:50 PM
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Huan Liu, Ibrahim Alper Basar, Nathalie Lyczko, Ange Nzihou, Cigdem Eskicioglu. Incorporating hydrothermal liquefaction into wastewater treatment – Part I: Process optimization for energy recovery and evaluation of product distribution. Chemical Engineering Journal, Elsevier, 2022, 449, pp.137838. ⟨10.1016/j.cej.2022.137838⟩. ⟨hal-03716666⟩

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