The effect of the phase during the hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) of corn husks was studied to determine whether liquid water or water vapor was the more suitable reaction medium, as well as if the HTC process could produce a solid fuel (hydrochar) from green corn husks that was comparable to coal. Using liquid water for the HTC process produced a hydrochar with an increased heating value (27.66 MJ kg−1) compared to using water vapor (25.46 MJ kg−1). HTC using liquid water removed 90% of the potassium contained in raw corn husk, whereas the water vapor HTC treatment removed 58%. The liquid water treated hydrochar contained a 29% decrease in ash content compared to the water vapor hydrochar. Using a TGA-FTIR analysis the liquid treated hydrochar demonstrated a more coal-like combustion in terms of mass loss and heat production, compared to the vapor treated hydrochar.
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