First continuous hydrothermal liquefaction plant in SA


The research programme in biofuels at the North-West University, under the guidance of Prof. Sanette Marx, recently led to the commissioning of the first continuous hydrothermal liquefaction plant in South Africa. The plant has the capacity to process a lignocellulose biomass in water feed of 150 l /hour at a residence time of 10 minutes and a design temperature and pressure of 350°C and 100 bar.

The plant is the first of its kind in the world to make use of biomass as feedstock.  The bio-oil from the plant has an energy value of approximately 30 MJ/kg, similar to that of coal used in coal-fired power stations. The bio-oil can be upgraded to renewable diesel with characteristics and energy content similar to fossil-based diesel. The group has already demonstrated the possibility of co-feeding oils with crude oil currently fed to refineries to reduce the sulfur content in refinery liquid fuels, and thereby decreasing the environmental impact of fossil-based fuels.

Contact Prof. Sanette Marx, NWU, Tel 018 299-1995,


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