Hydrothermal Carbonization (HTC) is a wet biomass conversion technology. It mimics the natural process of coal formation in the lab in just a few hours. The biomass or biomass precursor is placed in a closed reactor (i.e. autoclave) and treated at about 180-250°C under self-generated pressure. During this process complex chemical reactions take place. The final product is a solid residue called Hydrothermal Carbon while the sourrounding liquid phase contains important chemicals such as furfuals and small organic acids.
There are several advantages associated with this technology:
- HTC materials can be used for direct energy generation ( as biocoal) for decentralized energy applications.
- The resulting biochars can be put into soil under the “Terra Preta” concept to improve soil quality and at the same time store CO2 from plants.
- The technology can be also used to convert biowaste from municipal streams into useful carbon materials.
- The resulting carbon materials can be easily nano structured or functionalised and used for important applications in renewable energy, catalysis, CO2 capture or water purification.
- The liquid phase contains important chemicals which can be extracted and further converted in interesting biochemicals and biofuels
- The water phase can be re-used which reduces the consumption of water for this process
- The whole process is exothermic and therefore has a favorable energy balance
In our group we are interested in all these aspects with particular focus on using HTC as a sustainable alternatives to nanostructured carbons for renewable energy, catalysis and CO2 capture.
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