Thermaquatica has developed and patented a simple and inherently environmentally-friendly technology called Oxidative Hydrothermal Dissolution (OHD), for the conversion of any low value complex macromolecular feedstock into high value low molecular weight products. These products can be separated for use as bio-derived agricultural biostimulants, as well as fine or bulk chemicals and/or liquid fuels. OHD can be a major factor in the global drive to reduce the use of petroleum-based chemicals and fuels.
Multiple Applications for OHD
Using only water and oxygen under the right conditions, no exotic catalysts and no other solvents, the OHD process breaks down organic biomass, hard and soft coals and other organic solids into simpler compounds that can be further processed to be used as a fuel or purified and sold as fine chemicals or chemical intermediates for the production of other products including polymers. Thermaquatica’s technology can be scaled for deployment at local or at regional levels depending on the demands and production characteristics of the particular feedstock application. This flexibility makes it possible to process a variety of feedstocks as the primary raw material using OHD integrated optimally as required by local operating environments. The product suite depends on the feedstock and the process conditions.
Coal is plentiful in many areas of the world. Depending on the local economies and regulatory environments, this resource is seen as a primary source of energy, or as an underused natural resource. OHD can effectively address this sector in an environmentally friendly way, converting coal into higher value, low molecular weight products while generating little to no CO2. Sulfur, nitrogen, and metals remain bound as solid minerals or are captured as aqueous salts or oxides that can be eliminated by typical water treatments.
Our current partners seek practical ways to extract value from coal that has come under environmental or economic pressure. A process for conversion of low-grade hydrocarbon material to higher-grade material, in particular as it applies to conversion of low rank coal to high value liquid products is of utmost importance. For example, in the Latrobe Valley of Australia, inferred deposits of lignite are estimated at over 500 million tons. Greenpower Energy Ltd is currently funding research to investigate OHD as a means to convert these large deposits of low value brown coal to liquid products that can be converted to transportation fuels or purified for sale as chemical intermediates. OHD holds great promise for development of new, high value products from this abundant but underutilized resource.
All over the world, companies are looking to find ways to process waste or low value biomass in a cost-effective manner to high-value products. Sources of this biomass include waste streams from industrial processing facilities (e.g. paper production), agricultural production (corn stover, sugarcane bagasse), as well as agricultural activities or biomass harvested to be used specifically in a cellulosic process. In all cases, the end goal is to produce a value-added revenue stream with a viable alternative that transitions away from dependence on petroleum-based chemicals and fuels. The OHD process allows the production of the bio-based products needed to create chemicals and fuels demanded by the markets. The pulp and paper, agribusiness, food and beverage, as well as, waste management industries can all benefit from this process by leveraging innovation to create additional co-products and opportunities that can be used internally or moved further down the value chain. Our current partner in this field is sponsoring a study of the OHD process applied to agricultural waste. Based on the results obtained, design and specification for an OHD processing facility for conversion of this low value stream into high value products will be undertaken.