Char derived from sewage sludge of hydrothermal carbonization and supercritical water gasification: Comparison of the properties of two chars.


Wang C(1), Zhu W(2), Fan X(3).
Author information:
(1)Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center of Atmospheric Environment and Equipment Technology
(CICAEET), Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Environment Monitoring and Pollution Control, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China; College of Environment, Hohai University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210024, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(2)College of Environment, Hohai University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210024, China.
(3)College of Environment, Hohai University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210024, China; Nanjing Environment Group Co. LTD, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210026, China.


Supercritical water gasification (SCWG) is considered a promising technology for sewage sludge (SS) treatment and utilization; however, char produced by a side reaction has become a bottleneck in SCWG. In this study, SS and its model compound (10% humic acid) were treated in an autoclave by SCWG at 400 °C for 30 min and by hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) at 250 °C for 300 min. The char yield was 15.4% in SCWG and 41.3% in HTC. The chars were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) analysis, and elemental analysis. By comparing the properties the char produced by SCWG and the hydrochar produced by HTC, which has been considered a valuable product, the feasibility of using char as an additional product in SCWG was explored. Compared with the char produced by HTC, the char generated in SCWG exhibits a lower BET specific surface area (8.257 and 15.782 m2/g) and combustion activity, a higher proportion of small pores (with pore sizes of 1-2 nm), and greater thermal stability. The formation pathway of the two types of chars is related to both dehydration and aromatization; decarboxylation also occurs in char formation during SCWG. Humus was proved to be related to char formation during the SCWG of SS based on experimental results obtained with the model compound. This work provides insights needed to guide follow-up treatments or utilization of the char produced during the SCWG of SS.