Breakthrough Technologies for the Biorefining of Organic Solid and Liquid Wastes

Paul L Chen, Erik Anderson, Min M Addy, Renchuan Zhang, Yanling Cheng, Peng Peng, Yiwei Ma, Liangliang Fan, Yaning Zhang, Qian Lu, Shiyu Liu, Nan Zhou, Xiangyuan Deng, Joe Zhou, Muhammad Omar, Richard Griffith, Faryal Kabir, Hanwu Lei, Yunpu Wang, Yuhuan LiuR. R Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Organic solid and liquid wastes contain large amounts of energy, nutrients, and water, and should not be perceived as merely waste. Recycling, composting, and combustion of non-recyclables have been practiced for decades to capture the energy and values from municipal solid wastes. Treatment and disposal have been the primary management strategy for wastewater. As new technologies are emerging, alternative options for the utilization of both solid wastes and wastewater have become available. Considering the complexity of the chemical, physical, and biological properties of these wastes, multiple technologies may be required to maximize the energy and value recovery from the wastes. For this purpose, biorefining tends to be an appropriate approach to completely utilize the energy and value available in wastes. Research has demonstrated that non-recyclable waste materials and bio-solids can be converted into usable heat, electricity, fuel, and chemicals through a variety of processes, and the liquid waste streams have the potential to support crop and algae growth and provide other energy recovery and food production options. In this paper, we propose new biorefining schemes aimed at organic solid and liquid wastes from municipal sources, food and biological processing plants, and animal production facilities. Four new breakthrough technologies—namely, vacuum-assisted thermophilic anaerobic digestion, extended aquaponics, oily wastes to biodiesel via glycerolysis, and microwave-assisted thermochemical conversion—can be incorporated into the biorefining schemes, thereby enabling the complete utilization of those wastes for the production of chemicals, fertilizer, energy (biogas, syngas, biodiesel, and bio-oil), foods, and feeds, and resulting in clean water and a significant reduction in pollutant emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-580
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

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  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biodiesel
  • Biorefining
  • Gasification
  • Microalgae
  • Municipal solid waste
  • Municipal wastewater
  • Pyrolysis


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