Waste treatment via Hydrothermal Carbonisation
There is growing interest in Hydrothermal Carbonisation (HTC), a process that is capable of converting biomass (plant- and animal-based matter) into carbon-rich substances in the presence of water. This means that high moisture content feedstocks can be processed without the need for pre-drying, which can requires large amounts of energy. So think vegetable wastes, agricultural residues, animal litter and sewage into value-added products like catalysts, biofuels, soil enhancers, and environmental remediation products. A video of this process can be found here.
In 2011, HTC was also one of the treatment processes considered for the treatment of waste from modern, lower-flush toilets at Loughborough university, as part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's "Reinventing the Toilet Challenge".
Can this process be scaled up to industrial level, particularly in developing countries which need sustainable and affordable waste management strategies? That's what I'd like to explore in a little more detail shortly.