Main content area

Resembling a “natural formation pattern” of chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins by varying the experimental conditions of hydrothermal carbonization

Tirler, Werner, Basso, Albino
Chemosphere 2013 v.93 pp. 1464-1470
anthropogenic activities, biomass, chlorination, clay, coal, dibenzofuran, food contamination, forest fires, hydrothermal carbonization, pollution, polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, sewage sludge, temperature, toxicity, United States
Until several years ago dioxins were considered as just an unwanted by product of anthropogenic activities and stigmatized as the symbol of man-made environmental pollution. Natural processes, such as forest fires, can emit dioxins, but compared to industrial processes, usually very low quantities are emitted. However after a case of food contamination occurred in the United States of America in 1996 caused by kaolinitic clay a discussion on the provenience started. Besides the relatively high concentration also an unusual PCDD/F distribution pattern was found in these ball clay samples. This specific pattern related to none of the known anthropogenic sources for these contaminants and, in relation to a supposed natural formation, later it was named “natural formation pattern”. Hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) can transform biomass within hours into a brown coal-like product which resembles naturally occurring coal formation. HTC can also transform an already present PCDD/F contamination in a way to obtain a “natural formation pattern” characterized by an unusual high ratio between 1,2,3,7,8,9-HxCDD and 1,2,3,6,7,8-HxCDD and the absence of almost all chlorinated dibenzofurans. By varying the experimental conditions of the HTC process applied to sewage sludge samples contaminated with PCDD/Fs from anthropogenic sources, beside the “natural formation pattern” at a temperatures of 255°C, a remarkable increase of the toxicity based on WHO–TEQ was observed.