Bio‐crude production through recycling of pretreated aqueous phase via activated carbon

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The management and optimization of the aqueous phase are the major challenges that hinder the promotion of hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) technology on a commercial scale. Recently, many studies reported about the accumulation of the N‐content in the bio‐crude with continuous recycling of the aqueous phase from high protein‐containing biomass. In the present study, sewage sludge was processed at 350 °C in an autoclave. The produced aqueous phase was treated with activated carbon, and its subsequent recycling effect on the properties of the bio‐crude and aqueous phase was investigated. By contacting the aqueous phase with activated carbon, 38–43% of the total nitrogen was removed from the aqueous phase. After applying the treated aqueous phase recycling, the energy recovery of the bio‐crude increased from 50 to 61% after three rounds of recycling. From overall carbon/nitrogen recoveries, 50 to 56% of the carbon was transferred to the bio‐crude phase and more than 50% of the nitrogen remained in the aqueous phase. The aqueous phase contained mostly of N&O‐heterocyclic compounds, small chain organic acids, and amides. ICP‐AES analysis showed that more than 80% of the inorganic elements were concentrated into the solid phase.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3488
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Activated carbon
  • Aqueous phase recycling
  • Bio‐crude
  • HTL
  • Sewage sludge


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