Hydrothermal Processing of Chinese Tallow Tree (<i>Triadica Sebifera</i> Syn. <i>Sapium Sebiferum</i>) Biomass


  • Todd F. Shupe
  • W. James Catallo


Bark, biomass, Chinese tallow tree, leaves, solid wastes, supercritical water, transformation/recovery/recycling, wood


Woody biomass holds great potential as a renewable source for bio-based materials, feed stocks, and energy. One particular herbaceous species that merits further investigation is the Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera [syn. Sapium sebiferum]), which has extremely rapid growth, distribution, and has become noxious in the United States. This work explored the potential of Chinese tallow tree (wood/bark, leaves, and seeds) as a raw material for bio-based chemical and energy production using hydrothermal (HT) conversion. Seeds were HT-treated in the whole and ground states. Ground wood/bark, leaves, and seeds yielded similar aromatic compound assemblages after HT treatment. Ground seeds yielded unique minor by-products and did not contain naphthalene, which was present in the other tissue types. Whole HT-treated seeds yielded a material that resembled asphalt in appearance, odor, and chemical properties but did not produce any phenol. In contrast, ground seeds did not yield any particulate matter and had substantial amounts of phenol. In terms of elemental analysis of the ground and whole seed HT samples, the residues had increased C:H weight ratios. With regards to the energy input/output of this work, the HT treatment had a fairly neutral effect on energy content of the tallow seeds. The energy values of the tallow seeds are much higher than those typically reported for hardwood stemwood.


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