New technologies for the production of peat-substitutes are required to meet the rising demand for growing media in horticulture and the need to preserve natural peatlands. Hydrothermal conversion of organic residues into char materials, hydrochars, with peat-like properties may produce such substitutes, reducing environmental impacts and CO2 emissions from improper management. To assess their potential as a component in growing media, cress seed germination tests are used to assess hydrochars from digestate (D), spent coffee grounds (SCG), and grape marc (GM). Pre and post-treatments (extraction, washing, and drying) are applied to remove phytotoxic compounds associated with process waters retained on the hydrochars, and a nitrification bioassay with process water is used to predict their toxicity. All hydrochars achieve similar or better germination results compared to their feedstock, showing a potential to replace at least 5% of peat in growing media. SCG and GM hydrochars show inhibition above 5%, while all post-treated D-hydrochar mixtures produce >3 times longer roots than the control. The nitrification test shows a high sensitivity and good agreement with the high inhibition trends found in the germination tests with process water. Such tests can be a good way to optimize process combinations for the hydrothermal production of peat replacements.

Benefits and Limitations of Using Hydrochars from Organic Residues as Replacement for Peat on Growing Media

Farru, Gianluigi
;
Cappai, Giovanna;
2022-01-01

Abstract

New technologies for the production of peat-substitutes are required to meet the rising demand for growing media in horticulture and the need to preserve natural peatlands. Hydrothermal conversion of organic residues into char materials, hydrochars, with peat-like properties may produce such substitutes, reducing environmental impacts and CO2 emissions from improper management. To assess their potential as a component in growing media, cress seed germination tests are used to assess hydrochars from digestate (D), spent coffee grounds (SCG), and grape marc (GM). Pre and post-treatments (extraction, washing, and drying) are applied to remove phytotoxic compounds associated with process waters retained on the hydrochars, and a nitrification bioassay with process water is used to predict their toxicity. All hydrochars achieve similar or better germination results compared to their feedstock, showing a potential to replace at least 5% of peat in growing media. SCG and GM hydrochars show inhibition above 5%, while all post-treated D-hydrochar mixtures produce >3 times longer roots than the control. The nitrification test shows a high sensitivity and good agreement with the high inhibition trends found in the germination tests with process water. Such tests can be a good way to optimize process combinations for the hydrothermal production of peat replacements.
2022
biochar; hydrothermal carbonization; waste valorization; germination; peat substitutes; process water
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/334593
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