Hydrothermal Carbonisation Test Rig – Ready For Delivery

Tom Smith Labman News, Projects

We have all been working hard to get one of our latest systems ready for delivery, a Hydrothermal Carbonisation process development test rig for Loughborough University. Hydrothermal Carbonisation turns raw sewage waste into a safe, high quality fuel. The process test rig pumps effluent from a large input vessel through into a sealed pressure vessel. Once in the pressure vessel the effluent is cooked at temperatures up to 180 Degrees Celsius and pressures up to 20Bar. Exposure to the elevated temperatures and pressures for periods of up to 6 hours causes the effluent to carbonise, forming small chunks of solid carbon material. This material is extracted from the pressure vessel in small volumes which are allowed to condense in an enclosed expansion tank. As the small volumes are extracted, fresh material is pumped through into the vessel to form a continuous process.


System working at pressure

An extensive range of pressure and temperature monitoring equipment is employed throughout the process to provide the users with crucial data. This test data will be used to highlight areas where efficiency savings can be made meaning the test rig will form the basis for them to develop the process. Their end goal is to scale the system down so that it can be added to a typical everyday toilet. Essentially, it will provide the starting point for reinventing the toilet!

So far the system has been tested extensively at Labman with everyone lining up for the chance to be part of what could potentially be the greatest technological revolution in the bathroom department since the heated towel rail. Despite enthusiasm from some staff with offers of ‘high quality’ test material, we were able to utilise a delicious looking blend of Bran flakes, toilet tissue, yeast and sunflower oil as a testing media. Running the rig continuously for over 24 hours we managed to extract approximately 36 litres of carbonised material. Passing its acceptance tests with flying colours and after a few final tweaks the system is now ready for delivery to Loughborough.