Soil and plant value-added products from hydrothermal liquefaction


The goal of this research is to conduct greenhouse pot study analyzing the effects of char and aqueous phase generated from hydrothermal liquefaction of food waste on basil growth, yield, nutrient assays, and water availability. Food refuse constitutes the single largest waste stream in the United States, contributing to approximately 22 percent of all solid waste generated. Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) technology converts food waste to energy on an industrial scale by heating organic constituents in pressurized water. HTL produces an energy-dense liquid, called ‘bio-crude oil’ which can be upgraded into fuel oil. Minimal research has been conducted on the value-added components of HTL processing – the aqueous nutrient solution phase (HTL-aqueous phase) and char (HTL-char). HTL-aqueous phase may provide added soil nutrients and similar to biochar, HTL-char may increase soil water-retention and nutrient adsorption. The HTL products are produced via a partnership with a commercial on-campus food vending company; this research may be a model for value-added food waste utilization. Research implications include waste diversion from landfill, a climate change mitigation tactic, and soil nutrient additions and water conservation parameters.

Completion Objectives:

• Assist in greenhouse basil cultivar watering and plant growth assessments (e.g. plant height)
• Assist in laboratory analyses of basil cultivar parameters (e.g. leaf nutrient assessments)
• Assist in statistical analyses of results and prepare a report

Faculty Advisor:


Required Competencies

Any level

Student Researcher:

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