Characterization of solid fuel chars recovered from microwave hydrothermal carbonization of human biowaste
Microwave hydrothermal carbonization (M-HTC) is reported in this study as a viable sanitation technology that can reliably overcome the heterogeneous nature of human faecal biowaste (HBW) and realize its intrinsic energy value. Solid chars produced from the M-HTC process at 180°C and 200°C were characterized to further the understanding of the conversion pathways and their physicochemical, structural and energetic properties. The study revealed solid chars recovered were predominantly via a solid-solid conversion pathway. In terms of yield, more than 50% of solid chars (dry basis) can be recovered using 180°C as a benchmark. Additionally, the carbonized solid chars demonstrated enhanced carbon and energy properties following the M-HTC process: when compared to unprocessed HBW, the carbon content in the solid chars increased by up to 52%, while the carbon densification factor was greater than 1 in all recovered chars. The calorific values of the chars increased by up to 41.5%, yielding heating values that averaged 25MJ.kg-1. Thermogravimetric studies further revealed the solid fuel chars exhibited greater reactivity when compared with unprocessed HBW, due to improved porosity. This work strengthens the potential of the M-HTC sanitation technology for mitigating poor sanitation impacts while also recovering energy, which can complement domestic energy demands.
The authors wish to thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its funding to Loughborough University, UK, on the ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge’ project.
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering
- Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)