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Hydrothermal carbonisation of cattle paunch waste

Saverettiar, Gwenella (2018) Hydrothermal carbonisation of cattle paunch waste. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Meat processing and abattoir operations face several issues in regards with solid waste management worldwide. Presently, most wastes from slaughterhouses are landfilled, which not only causes major environmental damage, but also adds to running costs of the abattoir. In order to combat these issues, several waste treatment methods have been trialled, including conventional thermochemical processes such as pyrolysis and torrefaction. However, these methods were found to be economically unviable because the waste has to be dried prior to treatment. Hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) overcomes this challenge and treats waste having moisture content of up to 90% at low temperatures, while generating value added products.

This project was focused on a particular abattoir waste known as paunch. Paunch waste is the undigested feed of cattle and makes up 10% of the animal’s weight. Different reaction temperatures (150, 180 and 200 °C) and times (1 and 4 h), as well as varied feedstock moisture contents (75 and 90%), were used in order to produce different grades of products. The fuel characteristics of the solid products were tested for potential use as energy source for electricity generation and the nutrient concentrations in the liquid products were analysed to verify their suitability as soil amendment.

The carbon content of the paunch waste improved by 10 to 15% after HTC and was also reflected on the calorific content of hydrochars, which increased by a maximum of 27%. The atomic H/C and O/C ratios decreased considerably from 1.760 and 0.633 to 0.451 and 0.234, respectively. The evolution of the H/C and O/C atomic ratios of the hydrochars were analysed using the van Krevelen diagram and it was found that the fuel properties of the hydrochars improved noticeably after carbonisation. The nutrient concentrations in the liquid phases were found to increase significantly with increasing reaction temperature and time. With increased moisture content, nutrient concentrations decreased, because of relatively higher water content. The liquid phase can therefore be used as fertiliser while the properties of the hydrochars suggest that they can achieve good performance as a fuel for electricity generation.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Ho, Goen and Li, Linda
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