Attempts to produce high-grade fuel from biomass and low rank coal are important from the viewpoint of renewable energy and the utilization of unused resources. In this paper, the authors reported on the hydrothermal treatment of biomass and low rank coal at 300 °C using a bench scale continuous apparatus and a batch autoclave. The results show that coalification takes place during the hydrothermal treatment of both the low rank coal and biomass, and the upgraded solid products show similar chemical compositions, gross calorific value and effective calorific value, independent of the mixing ratio. The solid product also becomes hydrophobic and unable to re-adsorb the lost moisture. The characteristics of the solid produced by the bench scale continuous apparatus can be predicted by the results of the batch process. Thermogravimetric analysis shows that the solid product has a wide-range of molecular weight but the thermally stable heavy molecules are found more in the treated coal as opposite to the thermally unstable light molecules, more of which are found in the treated biomass. This may correlate with that the solid product of higher biomass mixing ratio has a higher volatile matter content. Polymerization is synergistically promoted during mixed hydrothermal treatment of low rank coal and biomass.
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