Continuous hydrothermal liquefaction of biomass: A critical review

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Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of biomass is emerging as an effective technology to efficiently valorize different types of (wet) biomass feedstocks, ranging from lignocellulosics to algae and organic wastes. Significant research into HTL has been conducted in batch systems, which has provided a fundamental understanding of the different process conditions and the behavior of different biomass. The next step towards continuous plants, which are prerequisites for an industrial implementation of the process, has been significantly less explored. In order to facilitate a more focused future development, this review—based on the sources available in the open literature—intends to present the state of the art in the field of continuous HTL as well as to suggest means of interpretation of data from such plants. This contributes to a more holistic understanding of causes and effects, aiding next generation designs as well as pinpointing research focus. Additionally, the documented experiences in upgrading by catalytic hydrotreating are reported. The study reveals some interesting features in terms of energy densification versus the yield of different classes of feedstocks, indicating that some global limitations exist irrespective of processing implementations. Finally, techno-economic considerations, observations and remarks for future studies are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberen11113165
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Biocrude
  • Continuous processes
  • HTL
  • Upgrading


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