Torrefaction Upgrading of Heterogenous Wastes Containing Cork and Chlorinated Polymers

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Torrefaction of two mixed wastes composed of cork and chlorinated polymers was studied at temperatures from 200 to 350 °C, for residence times of 30 and 60 min. These wastes were recovered from sandwich panels with cork core, have different contents of cork biomass and chlorinated polymers and present poor fuel properties for energy recovery applications. The raw wastes and the produced biochars were characterized for proximate and ultimate analysis, chlorine content, mineral composition, calorific value, mass yield, energy density, particle size distribution, and adsorption capacity towards cationic and anionic dyes. Torrefaction enabled the production of biochars with mass yields from 97.2 to 54.5%, with an increase in 12.1 to 37.9% in apparent density relative to the raw wastes, and HHV from 18.2 to 20.7 MJ/kg. Nevertheless, the chlorine content of the biochars was increased to values higher than 5%, inadequate for solid fuels. Dechlorination of the biochars by washing with hot water enabled 84 to 91% removal of the chlorine species achieving final concentrations lower than 1%, without significant reduction in the biochars calorific values. For the waste with higher polymer and ash content, the torrefaction process reduced the heating value; therefore, energy valorization was not adequate. Both the raw wastes and the biochars were tested as adsorbents for cationic and anionic dyes. After activation with KOH, both the raw materials and the biochars had removal efficiencies higher than 90% for methylene blue, a cationic dye often found in industrial effluents. The results showed that torrefaction combined with hot water washing converted these wastes to biochars with the potential for energy or material valorization contributing to a circular economy in the cork industrial sector.

Original languageEnglish
Article number99
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironments - MDPI
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • chlorine-containing waste
  • energetic valorization
  • industrial waste
  • material valorization
  • polymeric waste
  • torrefaction


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