The removal of alkali and alkaline-earth metallic (AAEM) species from biomass and/or its pyrolysis-derived char is often required to mitigate ash-related issues during their combustion. Leaching of biomass with an acidic aqueous phase (AP) produced from its pyrolysis is a promising strategy but encounters several issues, including high moisture content in wet biomass after dewatering and loss of organic carbon from biomass. Here, we propose a new process that leaches char with pyrolytic AP for the removal of AAEM species from and the uptakes of water-soluble organics by char. The char and pyrolytic AP produced from the pyrolysis of wheat straw at 450 °C in an auger reactor were subjected to time-dependent leaching at a liquid-to-solid mass ratio of 20. The results demonstrate that the majority of K, Mg, and Ca are leached within the first hour. Nonacidic compounds in the pyrolytic AP slightly hinder the leaching of K but have no impacts on that of Mg and Ca. Except for acetol, the uptakes of other organic compounds (e.g., furfural and phenolic compounds) by char are rapid in the first hour, become slower in 1-2 h, and then reach equilibrium. The results from density functional theory (DFT) calculations suggest the presence of chemisorption for the interactions between these organic compounds and char. Repeated leaching runs at the optimized leaching time (1 h) suggest that the pyrolytic AP is sufficient for leaching the char from the same run, achieving removal rates of ∼63.7 wt% for K, ∼43.7 wt% for Mg, and ∼60.7 wt% for Ca. After repeated leaching, there are only four organic compounds, including 2,3-butanedione, acetol, 2(5H)-furanone, and the remaining acetic acid, left in the leachate, simplifying the compositions of the pyrolytic AP. Leaching the char, instead of wheat straw, with the pyrolytic AP offers significant advantages, including the reduced moisture content in the wet solid after dewatering, negligible loss of organic carbon, and enhanced capture of phenolic compounds.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Fuel Technology
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology