Hengameh Bayat using the high-pressure reactor to produce biofuel and char for energy and wastewater treatment applications.
NMSU Student Receives NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant to Study Food-Waste-to-Biofuel Byproduct for Wastewater Treatment
by Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator
As the world’s population grows larger, the need for clean water, food, and energy is rising. Food production requires energy, and accounts for a large portion of global freshwater consumption. Due to the amount of energy and freshwater involved in food production, food waste is particularly important to resource management. Currently, the common practice of landfilling wet food waste leads to methane, carbon dioxide, and liquid waste that contaminates soil, groundwater, and rivers. Fortunately, food waste is a readily available biowaste resource. The use of food waste for biofuel production and resource recovery would not only reduce reliance on fossil fuels, but it would also help solve water scarcity issues and environmental challenges.
In addition to the advantages of using food waste as a feedstock for biofuel production, char (a byproduct derived from the food-waste-to-biofuel conversion), can be used to adsorb heavy metals in waste water treatment. Commercial adsorbents are often not cost effective. Using food waste char instead of commercial adsorbents could improve local water quality, and manage local food waste while generating an alternative source of energy.
In 2019, Hengameh Bayat, was awarded an NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant to study food waste conversion to biofuel, and evaluate the feasibility of using treated char as an adsorbent material for wastewater treatment. The project is titled, Wastewater Treatment Using Food Waste Char Obtained from Hydrothermal Liquefaction as a Low-Cost Adsorbent Material. Bayat, a PhD student at New Mexico State University’s Chemical and Materials Engineering department, worked on this project under the guidance of her faculty advisor, Dr. Catherine E. Brewer.
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