Simultaneous treatment and catalytic gasification of olive mill wastewater under supercritical conditions

Kıpçak E., Kutluay S., Akgün M.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARLY AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH & INNOVATION, vol.6, no.11, pp.1075-1080, 2012 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Recently, a growing interest has emerged on the development of new and efficient energy sources, due to the inevitable extinction of the nonrenewable energy reserves. One of these alternative sources which has a great potential and sustainability to meet up the energy demand is biomass energy. This significant energy source can be utilized with various energy conversion technologies, one of which is biomass gasification in supercritical water. Water, being the most important solvent in nature, has very important characteristics as a reaction solvent under supercritical circumstances. At temperatures above its critical point (374.8oC and 22.1 MPa), water becomes more acidic and its diffusivity increases. Working with water at high temperatures increases the thermal reaction rate, which in consequence leads to a better dissolving of the organic matters and a fast reaction with oxygen. Hence, supercritical water offers a control mechanism depending on solubility, excellent transport properties based on its high diffusion ability and new reaction possibilities for hydrolysis or oxidation. In this study the gasification of a real biomass, namely olive mill wastewater (OMW), in supercritical water is investigated with the use of Pt/Al2O3 and Ni/Al2O3 catalysts. OMW is a by-product obtained during olive oil production, which has a complex nature characterized by a high content of organic compounds and polyphenols. These properties impose OMW a significant pollution potential, but at the same time, the high content of organics makes OMW a desirable biomass candidate for energy production. All of the catalytic gasification experiments were made with five different reaction temperatures (400, 450, 500, 550 and 600°C), under a constant pressure of 25 MPa. For the experiments conducted with Ni/Al2O3 catalyst, the effect of five reaction times (30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 s) was investigated. However, procuring that similar gasification efficiencies could be obtained at shorter times, the experiments were made by using different reaction times (10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 s) for the case of Pt/Al2O3 catalyst. Through these experiments, the effects of temperature, time and catalyst type on the gasification yields and treatment efficiencies were investigated.