American Chemical Society
Environmental Science & Technology
The main goals for sustainable water resource recovery include maximizing energy generation, minimizing adverse environmental impacts, and recovering beneficial resources. Wastewater biosolids pyrolysis is a promising technology that could help facilities reach these goals because it produces biochar that is a valuable soil amendment as well as bio-oil and pyrolysis gas (py-gas) that can be used for energy. The raw bio-oil, however, is corrosive; therefore, employing it as fuel is challenging using standard equipment. A novel pyrolysis process using wastewater biosolids-derived biochar (WB-biochar) as a catalyst was investigated to decrease bio-oil and increase py-gas yield for easier energy recovery. WB-biochar catalyst increased the py-gas yield nearly 2-fold, while decreasing bio-oil production. The catalyzed bio-oil also contained fewer constituents based on GC-MS and GC-FID analyses. The energy shifted from bio-oil to py-gas, indicating the potential for easier on-site energy recovery using the relatively clean py-gas. The metals contained in wastewater biosolids played an important role in upgrading pyrolysis products. The Ca and Fe in WB-biochar reduced bio-oil yield and increased py-gas yield. The py-gas energy increase may be especially useful at water resource recovery facilities that already combust anaerobic digester biogas for energy since it may be possible to blend biogas and py-gas for combined use.