Influences of Temperature and Metal on Subcritical Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Hyperaccumulator: Implications for the Recycling of Hazardous Hyperaccumulators

Waste Sedum plumbizincicola, a zinc (Zn) hyperaccumulator during phytoremediation, was recycled via a subcritical hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) reaction into multiple streams of products, including hydrochar, bio-oil, and carboxylic acids. Results show approximately 90% of Zn was released from the S. plumbizincicola biomass during HTL at an optimized temperature of 220 °C, and the release risk was mitigated via HTL reaction for hydrochar production. The low-Zn hydrochar (∼200 mg/kg compared to original plant of 1558 mg/kg) was further upgraded into porous carbon (PC) with high porosity (930 m2/g) and excellent capability of carbon dioxide (CO2) capture (3 mmol/g). The porosity, micropore structure, and graphitization degree of PCs were manipulated by the thermal recalcitrance of hydrochar. More importantly, results showed that the released Zn2+ could effectively promote the production of acetic acid via the oxidation of furfural (FF) and 5-(hydroxymethyl)-furfural (HMF). Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) with negative electrospray ionization analysis confirmed the deoxygenation and depolymerization reactions and the production of long chain fatty acids during HTL reaction of S. plumbizincicola. This work provides a new path for the recycling of waste hyperaccumulator biomass into value-added products.