Journal article Open Access

Aqueous phase reforming process for the valorization of wastewater streams: Application to different industrial scenarios

Zoppi, Giulia; Pipitone, Giuseppe; Pirone, Raffaele; Bensaid, Samir

Wastewater is of general concern for environmental sustainability. At the industrial level, carbon-laden aqueous streams must be treated and should be valorized to reduce environmental and economic concerns. Lignocellulosic biomass processing (such as hydrolysis, pyrolysis, and hydrothermal liquefaction) results in secondary aqueous streams in which a high fraction of the initial carbon content of the biomass is virtually lost; food industry (like breweries and cheese factories) produces streams with a variety of organic load and salinity, which may complicate conventional valorization treatments; biodiesel production leads to glycerol excess in the market, which needs to be valorized. Among other alternatives, aqueous phase reforming (APR) has been proposed as a process driven at relatively mild conditions, able to convert oxygenated molecules into hydrogen. Despite its potential, APR has commonly been investigated with model compounds, and a systematic study on the possible fields of application of this technology is lacking. In the present review, the study of the available literature was focused on the valorization of complex feedstocks, such as real waste streams or synthetic mixtures, showing the outcome derived from laboratory-scale experiments. The results were critically discussed, pointing out the present limitations for the full development of this process and its application to the industrial scale. Despite the challenges of APR, its potential is noteworthy for the development of a circular low-waste economy.

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