Hydrothermal Processing of Food Waste for Resource Recovery

Jena, U., New Mexico State University
Bayat, H., New Mexico State University
With the growing global population, problems like providing clean water, food, and energy increase dramatically as resources are depleted faster. The development of new energy sources has become particularly important from the perspective of energy security and environmental protection. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, one-third of global food production is wasted in a world where 900 million people are suffering from hunger. High moisture food waste could be converted into useful products (water, fertilizer, liquid fuels) in a wet process referred to as hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL). HTL is an alternative technology to conventional waste treatment due to great ability to process high moisture content biomass waste without prior dewatering which produces an energy-dense liquid fuel precursor, called ‘bio-crude oil’. The purpose of our research is experimentally investigating the optimized HTL conditions (operating temperature, reaction time and etc.) to improve bio-crude oil yield and its quality from food waste. HTL product characterization includes higher heating value, elemental composition, and chemical constituents. Our preliminary results show that bio-crude oil generated from HTL process has an energy content of 30-40 MJ/kg and HTL of food waste can be effective for organic waste management and bioenergy production. This presentation will provide an overview of HTL of food waste and its co-product utilization.