Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Effect of operating parameters on hydrothermal liquefaction of corn straw and its life cycle assessment

  • 54 Accesses

  • 1 Citations


As the shortage of non-renewable fossil fuels, the renewable fuels should be further developed. Biomass energy has emerged the great utilization potential, and liquefaction of biomass is a typical technology. This paper studied the effect of the operation parameters on the hydrothermal liquefaction of corn straw using a batch reactor, including liquefaction temperature, initial pressure, retention time, solvent, and catalyst. The optimal liquefaction conditions for corn straw were 300 °C under 4 MPa for 15 min using the mixture of water and methanol as the solvent. After the addition of catalyst, NKC-11 catalyst showed the excellent performance, and the primary components were phenol and derivatives, alkane, furan, and the low concentration of organic acids. Lastly, the life cycle assessment on the hydrothermal liquefaction of corn straw for bio-oil production was executed. The results of LCA suggested that a net 1.31 kg of CO2 equivalent was produced for 1 kg of bio-oil product without considering syngas, while the value changed to 13.03 kg with considering syngas. Moreover, the results of sensitivity analysis further suggested that the syngas was a key factor on the environmental impacts in the hydrothermal liquefaction of corn straw process.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. Abdullah N, Gerhauser H (2008) Bio-oil derived from empty fruit bunches. Fuel 87(12):2606–2613

  2. Abdulrahman AO, Huisingh D (2017) The role of biomass as a cleaner energy source in egypt’s energy mix. J Clean Prod 201:3918–3930

  3. Akhtar J, Amin NAS (2011) A review on process conditions for optimum bio-oil yield in hydrothermal liquefaction of biomass. Renew Sust Energ Rev 15(3):1615–1624

  4. Angin D (2013) Effect of pyrolysis temperature and heating rate on biochar obtained from pyrolysis of safflower seed press cake. Bioresour Technol 128:593–597

  5. Asadullah M, Ab Rasid NS, Kadir SASA, Azdarpour A (2013) Production and detailed characterization of bio-oil from fast pyrolysis of palm kernel shell. Biomass Bioenerg 59:316–324

  6. Bridgwater AV (2003) Renewable fuels and chemicals by thermal processing of biomass. Chem Eng J 91(2–3):87–102

  7. Chan YH, Dang KV, Yusup S, Lim MT, Zain AM, Uemura Y (2014a) Studies on catalytic pyrolysis of empty fruit bunch (EFB) using Taguchi’s L9 orthogonal array. J Energy Inst 87(3):227–234

  8. Chan YH, Yusup S, Quitain AT, Uemura Y, Sasaki M (2014b) Bio-oil production from oil palm biomass via subcritical and supercritical hydrothermal liquefaction. J Supercrit Fluids 95:407–412

  9. Chan YH, Yusup S, Quitain AT, Tan RR, Sasaki M, Lam HL, Uemura Y (2015) Effect of process parameters on hydrothermal liquefaction of oil palm biomass for bio-oil production and its life cycle assessment. Energy Conv Manag 104:180–188

  10. Cherubini F, Ulgiati S (2010) Crop residues as raw materials for biorefinery systems—a LCA case study. Appl Energ 87(1):47–57

  11. Demirbaş A (2001) Biomass resource facilities and biomass conversion processing for fuels and chemicals. Energ Convers Manage 42(11):1357–1378

  12. Demirbas A (2004) Effect of initial moisture content on the yields of oily products from pyrolysis of biomass. J Anal Appl Pyrol 71(2):803–815

  13. Dunmade I, Madushele N, Adedeji PA, Esther TA (2019) A streamlined life cycle assessment of a coal-fired power plant: The South African case study. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26: 18484–18492

  14. Fortier MOP, Roberts GW, Staggwilliams SM, Sturm BSM (2014) Life cycle assessment of bio-jet fuel from hydrothermal liquefaction of microalgae. Appl Energ 122(5):73–82

  15. Foulet A, Bouchez T, Quéméner EDL, Giard L, Renvoisé L, Aissani L (2018) Life cycle assessment of a bioelectrochemical system as a new technological platform for biosuccinic acid production from waste. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25:36485–36502

  16. Guinee JB (2002) Handbook on life cycle assessment operational guide to the ISO standards. Int J Life Cycle Ass 7(5):311

  17. Huang AN, Hsu CP, Hou BR, Kuo HP (2016) Production and separation of rice husk pyrolysis bio-oils from a fractional distillation column connected fluidized bed reactor. Powder Technol 323:588–593

  18. Imman S, Laosiripojana N, Champreda V (2017) Effects of liquid hot water pretreatment on enzymatic hydrolysis and physicochemical changes of corncobs. Appl Biochem Biotech 184(2):1–12

  19. Iribarren D, Peters JF, Dufour J (2012) Life cycle assessment of transportation fuels from biomass pyrolysis. Fuel 97:812–821

  20. ISO 14041 (n.d.): Environmental management-life cycle assessment-goal and scope definition-inventory analysis.

  21. Joelsson JM, Gustavsson L (2010) Reduction of CO2 emission and oil dependency with biomass-based polygeneration. Biomass Bioenerg 34(7):967–984

  22. Kim SW, Koo BS, Ryu JW, Lee JS, Kim CJ, Lee DH, Kim GR, Choi S (2013) Bio-oil from the pyrolysis of palm and Jatropha wastes in a fluidized bed. Fuel Process Technol 108:118–124

  23. Kumar A, Kumar N, Baredar P, Shukla A (2015) A review on biomass energy resources, potential, conversion and policy in India. Renew Sust Energ Rev 45:530–539

  24. Lim JS, Manan ZA, Alwi SRW, Hashim H (2012) A review on utilisation of biomass from rice industry as a source of renewable energy. Renew Sust Energ Rev 16(5):3084–3094

  25. Liu X, Saydah B, Eranki P, Colosi LM, Greg MB, Rhodes J, Clarens AF (2013) Pilot-scale data provide enhanced estimates of the life cycle energy and emissions profile of algae biofuels produced via hydrothermal liquefaction. Bioresource Technol 148:163–171

  26. Lombardi L, Mendecka B, Carnevale E (2017) Comparative life cycle assessment of alternative strategies for energy recovery from used cooking oil. J Environ Manage 216:235–245

  27. Lu Q, Guo HQ, Zhou MX, Cui MS, Dong CQ, Yang YP (2018) Selective preparation of monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from catalytic cracking of biomass fast pyrolysis vapors over Mo2N/HZSM-5 catalyst. Fuel Process Technol 173:34–142

  28. Saad A, Elginoz N, Germirli BF, Iskender G (2018). Life cycle assessment of a large water treatment plant in Turkey. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26:14823–14834

  29. Sangaletti-Gerhard N, Romanelli TL, Vieira TMFDS, Navia R, Regitano-d’Arce MAB (2014) Energy flow in the soybean biodiesel production chain using ethanol as solvent extraction of oil from soybeans. Biomass Bioenerg 66:39–48

  30. Saxena RC, Adhikari DK, Goyal HB (2009) Biomass-based energy fuel through biochemical routes: a review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 13(1):167–178

  31. Sugano M, Takagi H, Hirano K, Mashimo K (2008) Hydrothermal liquefaction of plantation biomass with two kinds of wastewater from paper industry. J Mater Sci 43(7):2476–2486

  32. Tayefeh M, Sadeghi SM, Noorhosseini SA, Bacenetti J, Damalas CA (2018) Environmental impact of rice production based on nitrogen fertilizer use. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25:15885–15895

  33. Valderrama Rios ML, González AM, Lora EES, Almazán del Olmo OA (2018) Reduction of tar generated during biomass gasification: a review. Biomass Bioenerg 108:345–370

  34. Vaughan NE, Clair G, Sarah M, Littleton EW, Andrew W, Gernaat DEHJ, Vuuren DP (2018) Evaluating the use of biomass energy with carbon capture and storage in low emission scenarios. Environ Res Lett 13(4):044014

  35. Wang S, Guo Z, Cai Q, Guo L (2012) Catalytic conversion of carboxylic acids in bio-oil for liquid hydrocarbons production. Biomass Bioenerg 45:138–143

  36. Woon KS, Lo IMC (2014) Analyzing environmental hotspots of proposed landfill extension and advanced incineration facility in Hong Kong using life cycle assessment. J Clean Prod 75:64–74

  37. Xiu S, Shahbazi A (2012) Bio-oil production and upgrading research: a review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 16(7):4406–4414

  38. Xu XL, Chen HH (2018) Examining the efficiency of biomass energy: evidence from the Chinese recycling industry. Energ Policy 119: 77-86

  39. Xue Y, Chen H, Zhao W, Yang C, Ma P, Han S (2016) A review on the operating conditions of producing bio-oil from hydrothermal liquefaction of biomass. Int J Energ Res 40(7):865–877

  40. Yin S, Dolan R, Harris M, Tan Z (2010) Subcritical hydrothermal liquefaction of cattle manure to bio-oil: effects of conversion parameters on bio-oil yield and characterization of bio-oil. Bioresource Technol 101(10):3657–3664

  41. Yilmaz S, Selim H (2013) A review on the methods for biomass to energy conversion systems design. Renew Sust Energ Rev 25:420–430

  42. Zhang B, Keitz MV, Valentas K (2009) Thermochemical liquefaction of high-diversity grassland perennials. J Anal Appl Pyrol 84(1):18–24

  43. Zhang S, Yang X, Liu L, Ju M, Zheng K (2018a) Adsorption behavior of selective recognition functionalized biochar to Cd(II) in wastewater. Materials 11(2):299

  44. Zhang S, Yang X, Ju M, Liu L, Zheng K (2018b) Mercury adsorption to aged biochar and its management in China. Environ Sci Pollut R 26(5):4867–4877

  45. Zhang S, Yang X, Zhang H, Chu C, Zheng K, Ju M, Liu L (2019) Liquefaction of biomass and upgrading of bio-oil: a review. Molecules 12:2250

  46. Zheng JL, Yi WM, Wang NN (2008) Bio-oil production from cotton stalk. Energ Convers Manage 49(6):1724–1730

  47. Zheng J, Zhu YH, Zhu MQ, Sun GT, Sun RC (2018) Life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis of the utilization of bio-oil components for the production of three chemicals. Green Chem 20:3287

  48. Zhao N, Li BX (2016) The effect of sodium chloride on the pyrolysis of rice husk. Appl Energ 178:346–352

  49. Zhou D, Zhang L, Zhang S, Fu H, Chen J (2010) Hydrothermal liquefaction of macroalgae Enteromorpha prolifera to bio-oil. Energ Fuel 24(7):4051–4061

Download references


The authors appreciate and thank the editor and reviewers for their very useful suggestions and comments.


This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51708301, 21878163); Young Elite Scientists Sponsorship Program by Tianjin (TJSQNTJ-2018-06); Natural Science Foundation of Tianjin, China (17JCZDJC39500); and 2017 Science and Technology Demonstration Project of Industrial Integration and Development, Tianjin, China (17ZXYENC00100).

Author information

Correspondence to Meiting Ju or Le Liu.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Responsible editor: Ta Yeong Wu

Electronic supplementary material


(DOCX 117 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zhang, S., Zhou, S., Yang, X. et al. Effect of operating parameters on hydrothermal liquefaction of corn straw and its life cycle assessment. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-07267-4

Download citation


  • Biomass
  • Bio-oil
  • Syngas
  • Environmental impact