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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research

2010 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 research relates to inhouse objective: Evaluate swine wastewater treatment systems that can be used to reduce emissions, manage nutrients, and control pathogens on small farms. The Authorized Departmental Officer’s Designated Representative (ADODR) prepared gas, liquid, and solid product samples from hydrothermally carbonizing swine solids and chicken litter. The Principle Investigator (PI) analyzed the gas and liquid compositions using gas chromatography with mass spectroscopy. The PI is currently analyzing water quality of leachate samples produced from soil fertility experiments using hydrochars produced from hydrothermal carbonization of swine solids. Progress was monitored via numerous phone calls, emails and a meeting to design gas adsorption experiments and the analysis of liquid products from hydrothermal carbonization.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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