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Hydrothermal carbonisation of peat-based spent sorbents loaded with metal(loid)s

Kasiuliene, Alfreda, Carabante, Ivan, Bhattacharya, Prosun, Kumpiene, Jurate
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.23 pp. 23730-23738
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, arsenic, biomass, chromium, copper, esters, ethers, hydrochars, hydrothermal carbonization, leaching, liquids, organic matter, sorbents, wastes, zinc
Hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) is a wet and relatively low-temperature process where, under autogenous pressures, biomass undergoes a chain of reactions leading to the defragmentation of organic matter. As well as its other uses (e.g. for producing low-cost carbon-based nano-compounds), HTC is utilised for the treatment of wet wastes, such as manure and biosludge. This study aimed to determine if hydrothermal carbonisation is a feasible treatment method for spent sorbents that are highly enriched with arsenic, chromium, copper, and zinc. The chemical properties of hydrochar and process liquid were evaluated after HTC treatment, where peat-based spent sorbents were carbonised at 230 °C for 3 h. Analysis of Fourier transform-infrared spectra revealed that during HTC, the oxygenated bonds of ethers, esters, and carboxylic groups were cleaved, and low-molecular-weight organic fragments were dissolved in the process liquid. A large fraction of arsenic (up to 62%), copper (up to 25%), and zinc (up to 36%) were transferred from the solids into the process water. Leaching of these elements from the hydrochars increased significantly in comparison with the spent sorbents.