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Hydrothermal carbonization of biomass. technology
Ingelia has developed a process of hidrotermal carbonization of biomass able to obtain a solid biofuel with a high GCV (gross calorific value), low humidity, high performance on combustion and without CO2 emissions. The solid biofuel can be obtained from a wide range of organic stuff. Industrial development made by Ingelia has been patented on the basis of their temperature and control system as well as their reactor.
Development of hidrotermal technology and their industrial implementation has been possible thanks to the scientific work performed by Max Planck Institute, whom Ingelia had collaborated during two years. Ingelia has designed and built a Hidrotermal Carbonization Plant of Biomass that shows the viability of industrial implementation. Nowadays, Ingelia continues their R&D work on the process having the collaboration of the Chemical Technology Institute from Polytechnics University of Valencia.– CSIC.
The HTC process dehydrates the carbohydrate under certain conditions of pressure, temperature and acidic environment, in relatively short times (4 to 16 hours).

The great advantage of HTC is that the process occurs in aqueous medium, so the moisture of biomass is not a problem.
The process allows, on the one hand, concentrating the energy content from biomass into a solid biofuel, and the other, generating residual water that could be used as fertilizer on agricultural plantations.

Technology of biomass carbonization treats different types of biomass:

  • Waste from agriculture, gardening or forestry
  • Agroindustrial organic waste: fruit, vegetables, etc.
  • Sludge from sewage treatment

Energy valorisation of biocombustible can be performed either through thermal applications and cogeneration power systems.

   HTC solid biocombustible
Bio-coal obtained solves the key problems in order to profiting biomass:
  • Is homogeneous, whether biomass introduced on carbonization plant
  • Concentrates the energy power of biomass supplied.GPV around 24 MJ/kg, similar to browncoal
  • Bio-coal combustion is uniform, so burning equipment are easier and cheaper
  • High density, so transportation and management costs are reduced
  • Burning the bio-coal is “CO2 neutral”, so there are not quotes for emissions
  • It occurs in porous form under water, so it is easy to apply a pressing-drying  process
  • Elements such as K, Cl, etc.. are dissolved in the liquid phase, resulting in a coal with low salinity and ash melting points above 1250 ° C
  • Different post-treatments can be adapted for improving the quality of coal
  • Versatility, as bio-coal can be used for: electrical generation, co-combustion, pelletization, selling, direct combustion in order to obtain heat, …

The hydrothermal carbonization process (HTC) was first described by Friedrich Bergius in 1913, but its industrial application was not developed due to the rising importance of oil. The application of HTC process for biomass treatment was researched and developed by Prof. M. Antonietti at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (MPI) recently published their findings in 2006.

Ingelia currently has an agreement for scientific collaboration with the Institute of Chemical Technology (ITQ) from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, led by Professor Avelino Corma (CSIC).

Up to date, the process turns out to be a valid option for the treatment of various types of biomass, both for all types of vegetable biomass (gardening, forestry, agriculture ...) as well as organic waste and sludge water treatment.
Ingelias industrial development demonstrates technical and economic viability on an industrial scale of the hydrothermal carbonization process.