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Hydrothermal Catalytic Gasification (HCG) as an Alternative to Anaerobic Digestion

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131599238,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Matthew D Ong, Lance C. Schideman
Keywords:   Hydrothermal catalytic gasification anaerobic digestion bioenergy raney nickel catalyst subcritical water

Abstract. Anaerobic digestion can be an effective low-cost method of biomass energy conversion. However, the process’s biological nature leads to long processing times, high variability and instability, and susceptibility to shock loads. Hydrothermal catalytic gasification (HCG) provides a prospective alternative to anaerobic digestion in situations where acquiring trained technical management and high quality manufacturing materials are not an issue. Compared to anaerobic digestion, HCG can achieve higher gas yields within minutes/hours as opposed to days/weeks. HCG of newspaper at 350°C and 850 psi initial pressure for 30 min with a Raney nickel type catalyst resulted in 75% gas conversion. Sequential NaOH addition and other processing modifications increased gas yields and produced higher methane and hydrogen gas concentrations, with total energy yield increases of more than 20% over the course of consecutive runs. There remains the potential to further enhance energy yields and extend the catalyst lifetime. The current state of anaerobic digestion and HCG will also be reviewed with emphasis on conversion efficiencies and process economics.

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