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Chemical evaluation of chars produced by thermochemical conversion (gasification, pyrolysis and hydrothermal carbonization) of agro-industrial biomass on a commercial scale

Wiedner, Katja, Rumpel, Cornelia, Steiner, Christoph, Pozzi, Alessandro, Maas, Robert, Glaser, Bruno
Biomass and bioenergy 2013 v.59 pp. 264-278
X-radiation, biochar, bioenergy, biomass, carbon, cation exchange capacity, edaphic factors, elemental composition, gasification, hydrochars, hydrothermal carbonization, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, pH, pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, production technology, pyrolysis, scanning electron microscopy
Technologies for agro-industrial feedstock utilization such as pyrolysis, gasification and hydrothermal carbonization at industrial scale develop rapidly. The thermochemically converted biomasses of these production technologies have fundamentally different properties controlled by the production technology. This is reflected by general properties such as pH or elemental composition. The 13C NMR spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and black carbon results confirmed these observations showing that hydrochars have lower proportions of aromatic compounds than biochars (less stable) but are rich in functional groups (higher cation exchange capacity) than biochars. Analyses of pollutants indicate that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as well as dioxin contents of most samples were under the threshold values recommended by International Biochar Initiative and European Biochar Certificate. In conclusion, biochars and hydrochars are entirely different from each other and these materials will probably have a complementary reaction in a soil environment.