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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Influence of hydrothermal carbonization conditions on the porosity, functionality, and sorption properties of microalgae hydrochars

Kozyatnyk, Ivan; Benavente, Veronica; Weidemann, Eva; Gentili, Francesco G.; Jansson, Stina


Green microalgae is a possible feedstock for the production of biofuels, chemicals, food/feed, and medical products. Large-scale microalgae production requires large quantities of water and nutrients, directing the attention to wastewater as a cultivation medium. Wastewater-cultivated microalgae could via wet thermochemical conversion be valorised into products for e.g., water treatment. In this study, hydrothermal carbonization was used to process microalgae polycultures grown in municipal wastewater. The objective was to perform a systematic examination of how carbonization temperature, residence time, and initial pH affected solid yield, composition, and properties. Carbonization temperature, time and initial pH all had statistically significant effects on hydrochar properties, with temperature having the most pronounced effect; the surface area increased from 8.5 to 43.6 m(2) g(-1) as temperature was increased from 180 to 260 degrees C. However, hydrochars produced at low temperature and initially neutral pH generally had the highest capacity for methylene blue adsorption. DRIFTS analysis of the hydrochar revealed that the pH conditions changed the functional group composition, implying that adsorption was electrostatic interactions driven. This study concludes that un-activated hydrochars from wastewater grown microalgae produced at relatively low hydrothermal carbonization temperatures adsorb methylene blue, despite having low surface area.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2023, Volume: 13, number: 1

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    Chemical Process Engineering

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