Mild hydrothermal conditioning prior to torrefaction and slow pyrolysis of low-value biomass

R. Van Poucke, R. W. Nachenius, K. E. Agbo, F. Hensgen, L. Bühle, M. Wachendorf, Y. S. Ok, F. M.G. Tack, W. Prins, F. Ronsse, E. Meers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this research was to establish whether hydrothermal conditioning and subsequent thermochemical processing via batch torrefaction or slow pyrolysis may improve the fuel quality of grass residues. A comparison in terms of fuel quality was made of the direct thermochemical processing of the feedstock versus hydrothermal conditioning as a pretreatment prior to thermochemical processing. Hydrothermal conditioning reduced ash content, and particularly nitrogen, potassium and chlorine contents in the biomass. The removal of volatile organic matter associated with thermochemical processes can increase the HHV to levels of volatile bituminous coal. However, slow pyrolysis only increased the HHV of biomass provided a low ash content (<6%) feedstock was used. In conclusion, hydrothermal conditioning can have a highly positive influence on the efficiency of thermochemical processes for upgrading low-value (high-ash) biomass to a higher quality fuel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-112
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource technology
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the COMBINE project (No. 299 J) through the Interreg IV B regional development fund which has made this work possible. The GR3 project (IEE/12/046/SI2.645700), supported by Intelligent Energy Europe, has also made this work possible.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd


  • Energy densification
  • Grass
  • Hydrothermal conditioning
  • Slow pyrolysis
  • Torrefaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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