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The Vapothermal Carbonization (VTC)
Vapothermal Carbonization (VTC) is a process that has been developed from Hydrothermal Carbonization (HTC), which uses heat and pressure to imitate the natural coalification process (the formation of fossil coal over a period of millions of years) in a much shorter time.
In contrast to the HTC, the reaction does not take place in a hot water bath (hydro = water, thermal = caused by heat) but in a reaction atmosphere of saturated steam (vapo (r) = steam, thermal = caused by heat).
The VTC is a batch process, the reaction time is typically three to four hours, depending on the biomass, reaction pressure and temperature in our plants, in order to produce biochar with a degree of carbonization and a calorific value between lignite and hard coal.
The advantage of VTC compared to HTC lies in the simpler process management, the considerably higher throughput and significantly lower requirements for the pretreatment of the biomass to be treated.
Biomass that is to be treated with VTC does not have to be reduced to a pumpable size, as with the HTC, but can in most cases be used without any pretreatment at all. This leads to considerably lower investment costs for a Vapothermal Carbonization plant.
In conventional VTC systems, the biomass inside the reactor is directly exposed to saturated steam, the heat and condensation energy from the steam is used to heat up the biomass, afterwards the steam is withdrawn from the reactor as a heavily contaminated process condensate cotaining countless (intermediate) reaction products. This condensate then has to be cleaned in a complex process and, due to the heavy pollution, cannot be discharged into conventional sewage treatment plants.
Our latest generation of systems, the VTC-M, solves this problem by no longer directly applying steam to the reactor. Instead, the reactor is indirectly heated by a double jacket which is filled with hot thermal oil.
The water contained in the biomass evaporates inside the reactor, automatically generating the required steam pressure atmosphere without any risk of contaminating the heat transfer oil.
In this way, we save approx. 300 liters of fresh water per ton of educt and the same amount of heavily contaminated process condensate. In addition, a steam generator is no longer required, which further reduces the investment and operating costs for a VTC-M system.
In the future, there will be no more steam-carrying pressure lines in our VTC-M systems - this greatly improves work safety and reduces the regularly recurring test efforts (pressure equipment test).
As a result of the reduction in the amount of process wastewater, the heat requirement of the VTC-M also decreases between 20% and 30% (depending on the biomass used) compared to a conventional VTC system!
The following picture shows an exemplary plant for the production of biochar from 3,000 m³/d of organic fraction from household waste: