Conference Dates

June 16-21, 2019


One salient advantage of hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) is the ability to process diverse feedstocks individually or as blends. This creates an opportunity for using wet organic waste feedstocks that in many cases pose a disposal liability. The low cost associated with the feedstock enables cost-effective deployment of smaller, decentralized processing plants that match the geographic availability of wet waste resources. Two underutilized sources of wet waste biomass are wastewater sludge and fats, oils, and greases (FOG). In the United States, these each represent about 20% of the total HTL biocrude production potential from wet wastes. In this study, the selected FOG stream is decanted scum from the primary sedimentation operation of the same wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) that provided the sludge.

Among the types of FOG, wastewater scum is one of the more complex and challenging. Scum contains entrained water, plant matter like leaves and seeds, and bits of garbage (paper and plastic). For most other processes to access the lipids in scum, some combination of heating, filtering, and solvent extraction would be required, leading to costly and/or inefficient recovery. HTL is preferable because it is a wet process and the scum can be blended directly to capture the whole energy content in the blended feed.

Using a blend of primary and secondary sludge from Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (CCCSD) and decanted scum from CCCSD primary sedimentation as the source of FOG, a blend of sludge and scum was successfully prepared and processed in a bench scale continuous flow HTL system. A total of 54 L of blended slurry was converted to 4.2 L of biocrude oil. The scum was blended with the sludge such that it represented 20 wt% of the total dry, ash-free (daf) solids in the feed. The resulting biocrude had a much lower density (0.95 g/cm3) than the biocrude from CCCSD sludge alone (0.99 g/cm3) leading to improved gravity separation from the aqueous phase. The biocrude was also lower in moisture.

During the oral presentation, the focus will be on the process of feedstock selection, evaluation, and characteristics including detailed steps and equipment used to format the blended feedstock for use in the HTL reactor system. The poster will include data for the integrated process including mass balance, yields, and characterization of products.

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