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Quantification of total organic carbon in ashes from smoldering combustion of sewage sludge via a thermal treatment—TGA method

Cheng, S., Gao, X.ORCID: 0000-0003-2491-8169, Cao, L., Wang, Q. and Qiao, Y. (2020) Quantification of total organic carbon in ashes from smoldering combustion of sewage sludge via a thermal treatment—TGA method. ACS Omega, 5 (51). pp. 33445-33454.

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Self-sustaining smoldering combustion is a promising technology for treating sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants because of its low energy inputs. Proper use or disposal of the resulting ashes requires thorough characterization of their properties, including the content of total organic carbon (TOC). Here, we develop a two-step method for quantifying TOC in the raw ashes from sewage sludge smoldering combustion. The first step is to thermally treat the raw ashes at 500 °C in N2 for 1 h, followed by ultimate analysis of both the raw ashes and the thermally treated ashes. This enables the quantification of carbon released during thermal treatment. The second step is nonisothermal thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) of the thermally treated ashes, in which the samples are heated to 900 °C at 10 °C/min in air. The weight losses at 310–500 °C are confirmed to be caused by organic carbon oxidation, allowing us to determine the contents of carbon retained in the thermally treated ashes. The sums of these two portions of carbon represent the contents of TOC in the raw ashes, which are ∼0.85–6.52 wt % (dry basis), depending on their locations and particle sizes. The two-step (thermal treatment–TGA) method is validated via a method that includes acid washing of the thermally treated ashes, ultimate analysis of the acid-washed ashes, and TOC analysis of the leachates. The two-step method is simple and accurate and, importantly, provides thorough information on the thermal behavior of the raw and thermally treated ashes.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Engineering and Energy
Publisher: American Chemical Society
Copyright: © 2020 American Chemical Society
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