Effect of hydrothermal carbonization and torrefaction on spent coffee grounds
¹LUT University, Department of Energy Technology, PL 20, 53851 Lappeenranta, Finland
²Federal University of Minas Gerais, 31270-901 Belo Horizonte, MG Brazil
³LUT University, Department of Sustainability Science, PL 20, 53851 Lappeenranta, Finland
Coffee is one of the most tradable commodities worldwide with the current global consumption of over 10 billion kilograms of coffee beans annually. At the same time, a significant amount of solid residues, which are known as spent coffee grounds (SCG), is generated during instant coffee manufacturing and coffee brewing. Those residues have a high potential in various applications, yet they remain mostly unutilized. The current work presents the experimental comparison of two pretreatment technologies – hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) and torrefaction – for converting SCG into a valuable char. The results showed that low-temperature torrefaction (< 250 °C) has a negligible effect on feedstock properties due to initial pre-processing of coffee beans. However, the energy conversion efficiency of torrefaction at higher temperatures is comparable with that of HTC. The average energy yields for high-temperature torrefaction (> 250 °C) and HTC were on the level of 88%. Devolatilization and depolymerization reactions reduce oxygen and increase carbon contents during both processes: chars after torrefaction at 300 °C and HTC at 240 °C had 23–28% more carbon and 43–46% less oxygen than the feedstock. Both pretreatment methods led to a comparable increase in energy density: the highest HHV of 31.03 MJ kg-1 for torrefaction at 300 °C and 32.33 MJ kg-1 for HTC at 240 °C, which is similar to HHV of anthracite. The results showed that both processes can be effectively used to convert SCG into energy-dense char, even though HTC led to slightly higher energy densification rates.