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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: HYDROTHERMAL CARBONIZATION OF AGRICULTURAL RESIDUALS

Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
To gain mechanistic understanding of hydrothermal carbonization process involving various agricultural residuals such as livestock wastes and crop residues.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Carbonization: Dried and grounded swine manure, chicken litter, and rye grass will be carbonized under water in stainless steel batch reactors at reaction temperatures of 200 to 350°C and autogenic pressures. Solid separated swine manures from a private swine farm in NC and chicken litter from a private farm in SC will be used for the experiments. Some of the animal manure feedstock will be carbonized with the catalysts prepared by NC State University (Agreement #: 58-6657-9-234N). The carbonization reactor system includes a non-stirred 1-L T316 stainless steel vessel with a band heater capable of heating the reactant to 500°C and a pressure of 3000 psig. Small stainless steel tubular reactors (180 mL volume) will also be used to quickly screen appropriate process variables for the reactions involving low temperature and pressure (less than 250°C and 5 Mpa). The feedstock will be carbonized under water by slowly heating the reactor (about 5°C/min) to 200-350°C. Some of the boichar (or hydrochar) will be heated higher temperature in a furnace to about 850°C with steam for activation. Gas, liquid, and solid end products will be analyzed for their physicochemical and thermal properties.

Physicochemical Characterization: Gaseous end products will be analyzed with gas chromatographs equipped with thermal conductivity and flame ionization detectors and mass spectrometer for main energy gases and hydrocarbons. Solid end product, biochar, will be washed with acetone to remove tarry residue on its surface. Biochar will be characterized with its functional groups, surface areas, contact angles, calorific values, adsorption capacity for various metals and gases, pyrolytic and oxic thermal degradation patterns, and ash contents. Impact of applying biochar to soil fertility will also be tested. Aqueous and non-aqueous liquid products will be analyzed with a GC/MS and HPLC.


3.Progress Report

This project is related to inhouse objectives 1: Develop improved treatment technologies to better manage manure from swine, poultry and dairy operations to reduce releases to the environment of odors, pathogens, ammonia, and greenhouse gases as well as to maximize nutrient recovery.

The Principal Investigator (PI) prepared gas, liquid, and solid product samples from hydrothermally carbonizing swine solids and chicken litter. The collaborators at the University of South Carolina analyzed the gas and liquid compositions using gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. The PI and collaborators analyzed the water quality of leachate samples obtained from experiments with soils amended with hydrochars produced from hydrothermal carbonization of swine solids. The findings were presented at the 2010 American Society of Agronomy annual meeting in Long Beach, California. Delays have occurred in this project due to lab renovations at ARS-Florence. The project will be extended through 9/30/2013.

Monitoring activities included numerous phone calls, emails, and visits between the PI and the collaborators to discuss project plans. The PI visited the collaborators at Columbia, South Carolina, several times to discuss sampling, analytical procedures, research results, experimental design, and writing manuscripts.


Last Modified: 8/31/2014
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