Hydrothermal co-liquefaction of biomasses – quantitative analysis of bio-crude and aqueous phase composition
Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) is a promising technology for conversion of wet biomasses to liquid fuels, but considerable amounts of oxygen and nitrogen remain in the bio-crude, while large amounts of water-soluble organics are displaced to the aqueous phase (AqP). In this study the bio-crude and AqP from HTL of 11 different feedstocks of lignocellulosics, residues, macroalgae, microalgae, and their mixtures were analyzed for elemental composition, total acid number, total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen, and pH. Quantitative analysis of major compound classes present in both bio-crudes and AqPs was achieved using gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry employing prior derivatization of authentic standards. A wide range of biochemical content was obtained through mixing of biomasses and quantitative analysis showed particular interaction between carbohydrates and proteins with extended effect on lipids. The ability of ammonia and amines to form Schiff bases was the key factor affecting elemental distribution and the direction of reaction pathways involved in the formation of cyclic oxygenates, hydroxypyridines, oxygenated aromatics, diols, and fatty acids in bio-crudes. Similarly, Schiff base formation accounts for increased formation of nitrogen-containing compounds in the AqP, leading to a decrease in TOC and total nitrogen in products from HTL of mixed biomasses. This work highlights the quantitative differences in bio-crude and AqP composition from HTL of varying biomasses and provides new knowledge of the effect of mixing biomasses on elemental distribution and composition of product fractions. The results provide valuable information for optimizing the feedstocks used for HTL based on biochemical composition.