Lignin in chemical pulping waste, or black liquor (BL), can be converted into various
products via supercritical water gasification (SCWG). However, the inherited alkaline
contents from the pulping chemicals may affect the product yields and properties.
In this research, the influence of the residual alkali on the product distribution
via SCWG of soda BL and kraft BL was evaluated. The SCWG was performed in a batch
quartz reactor for 10 min at various temperatures (673, 773 and 873 K) and pressures
(250, 300 and 400 bar). The highest hydrogen (H2) production occurred at 873 K for
the soda BL. The water-gas shift reaction with sodium ions played an important part
in the H2 production, while only small amounts of methane and carbon monoxide were
detected. Hydrocarbons, carboxylic acids and esters were the dominant substrates in
the liquid products, which denoted the potential of this method for bond cleaving
of the lignin macromolecule. As a result, BL, which typically contains alkali salt,
was an appropriate feedstock for the SCWG reaction to produce renewable fuel. This
method not only has a positive influence on the generation of value added products
from highly corrosive waste but also helps avoid some technical problems commonly
encountered with direct firing in a recovery boiler.