The management of digestate, the main by-product of the anaerobic digestion (AD) process, is one of the most serious environmental issues. Although digestate is used on arable land as a fertilizer, it can have a negative impact on the environment due to nitrate leaching into the groundwater and ammonia volatilization into the atmosphere, with high economic and environmental disposal costs. Therefore, hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), a thermochemical biomass conversion process, could represent a sustainable and efficient alternative for digestate management. Hydrochar, the solid product of the HTC process, has been recently proposed as a plant growing medium in soilless culture systems (SCS). Here, using cow manure digestate as feedstock, we investigated the influence of the HTC process reaction temperature (180, 220 and 250 °C) and residence time (1 and 3 h) on the physical-chemical properties (pH, electrical conductivity, and mineral element concentrations) of the resulting hydrochars. Furthermore, in order to fully valorize hydrochar as a growing medium, their possible phytotoxic effects and those of their water extracts (prepared at two different concentrations and at different pHs) were tested in germination tests with cress seeds (Lepidium sativum L.). Concentrations of nutrients, heavy metals, organic acids, sugars and furan compounds were determined in the water extracts. Characterization analysis of these hydrochars revealed that they can be distinguished from each other by their physical-chemical properties, which were significantly affected by the two process parameters. Specifically, the HTC temperature had a greater effect on the composition of hydrochars than the residence time. Germination tests found hydrochar water extracts to show significantly lower phytotoxicity than the hydrochars themselves. Notably, the phytotoxic effect of the extracts decreased with increasing extraction ratio and decreasing pH. The chromatographic characterization of extracts identified the presence of potential phytotoxins, such as furan compounds (i.e., hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural). However, before using hydrochars as potential and innovative growing media for plants, their phytotoxicity should be limited, for example through their dilution with other substrates. Overall, AD-HTC coupling could represent a valuable eco-sustainable expedient in the field of biomasses, green economy and waste conversion and, therefore, further investigations in this direction are necessary. © 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Celletti, S., Bergamo, A., Benedetti, V., Pecchi, M., Patuzzi, F., Basso, D., et al. (2021). Phytotoxicity of hydrochars obtained by hydrothermal carbonization of manure-based digestate. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, 280, 1-14 [10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111635].

Phytotoxicity of hydrochars obtained by hydrothermal carbonization of manure-based digestate

Celletti S;
2021

Abstract

The management of digestate, the main by-product of the anaerobic digestion (AD) process, is one of the most serious environmental issues. Although digestate is used on arable land as a fertilizer, it can have a negative impact on the environment due to nitrate leaching into the groundwater and ammonia volatilization into the atmosphere, with high economic and environmental disposal costs. Therefore, hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), a thermochemical biomass conversion process, could represent a sustainable and efficient alternative for digestate management. Hydrochar, the solid product of the HTC process, has been recently proposed as a plant growing medium in soilless culture systems (SCS). Here, using cow manure digestate as feedstock, we investigated the influence of the HTC process reaction temperature (180, 220 and 250 °C) and residence time (1 and 3 h) on the physical-chemical properties (pH, electrical conductivity, and mineral element concentrations) of the resulting hydrochars. Furthermore, in order to fully valorize hydrochar as a growing medium, their possible phytotoxic effects and those of their water extracts (prepared at two different concentrations and at different pHs) were tested in germination tests with cress seeds (Lepidium sativum L.). Concentrations of nutrients, heavy metals, organic acids, sugars and furan compounds were determined in the water extracts. Characterization analysis of these hydrochars revealed that they can be distinguished from each other by their physical-chemical properties, which were significantly affected by the two process parameters. Specifically, the HTC temperature had a greater effect on the composition of hydrochars than the residence time. Germination tests found hydrochar water extracts to show significantly lower phytotoxicity than the hydrochars themselves. Notably, the phytotoxic effect of the extracts decreased with increasing extraction ratio and decreasing pH. The chromatographic characterization of extracts identified the presence of potential phytotoxins, such as furan compounds (i.e., hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural). However, before using hydrochars as potential and innovative growing media for plants, their phytotoxicity should be limited, for example through their dilution with other substrates. Overall, AD-HTC coupling could represent a valuable eco-sustainable expedient in the field of biomasses, green economy and waste conversion and, therefore, further investigations in this direction are necessary. © 2020 Elsevier Ltd
Celletti, S., Bergamo, A., Benedetti, V., Pecchi, M., Patuzzi, F., Basso, D., et al. (2021). Phytotoxicity of hydrochars obtained by hydrothermal carbonization of manure-based digestate. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, 280, 1-14 [10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111635].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11365/1184063