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

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Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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

Funding

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).

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Correspondence to Meiting Ju or Le Liu.

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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

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Keywords

  • Biomass
  • Bio-oil
  • Syngas
  • Environmental impact