Hydrothermal carbonization of lignocellulosic biomass: Effect of process conditions on hydrochar properties

Mikko Mäkelä, Verónica Benavente, Andrés Fullana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

179 Citations (Scopus)


Although hydrothermal carbonization of biomass components is known to be mainly governed by reaction temperature, consistent reports on the effect and statistical significance of process conditions on hydrochar properties are still lacking. The objective of this research was to determine the importance and significance of reaction temperature, retention time and solid load on the properties of hydrochar produced from an industrial lignocellulosic sludge residue. According to the results, reaction temperature and retention time had a statistically significant effect on hydrochar ash content, solid yield, carbon content, O/C-ratio, energy densification and energy yield as reactor solid load was statistically insignificant for all acquired models within the design range. Although statistically significant, the effect of retention time was 3-7 times lower than that of reaction temperature. Predicted dry ash-free solid yields of attained hydrochar decreased to approximately 40% due to the dissolution of biomass components at higher reaction temperatures, as respective oxygen contents were comparable to subbituminous coal. Significant increases in the carbon contents of hydrochar led to predicted energy densification ratios of 1-1.5 with respective energy yields of 60-100%. Estimated theoretical energy requirements of carbonization were dependent on the literature method used and mainly controlled by reaction temperature and reactor solid load. The attained results enable future prediction of hydrochar properties from this feedstock and help to understand the effect of process conditions on hydrothermal treatment of lignocellulosic biomass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-584
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Biosolids
  • Experimental design
  • Hydrothermal treatment
  • Response surface methodology
  • Sludge


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