Displaying all 13 publications

  1. Su MH, Azwar E, Yang Y, Sonne C, Yek PNY, Liew RK, et al.
    J Hazard Mater, 2020 09 05;396:122610.
    PMID: 32298865 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.122610
    This study examined an aquaponic approach of circulating water containing ammonia excretions from African catfish grown in an aquaculture tank for bacterial conversion into nitrates, which then acted as a nutrient substance to cultivate lettuce in hydroponic tank. We found that microwave pyrolysis biochar (450 g) having microporous (1.803 nm) and high BET surface area (419 m2/g) was suitable for use as biological carrier to grow nitrifying bacteria (63 g of biofilm mass) that treated the water quality through removing the ammonia (67%) and total suspended solids (68%), resulting in low concentration of remaining ammonia (0.42 mg/L) and total suspended solid (59.40 mg/L). It also increased the pH (6.8), converted the ammonia into nitrate (29.7 mg/L), and increased the nitrogen uptake by the lettuce (110 mg of nitrogen per plant), resulting in higher growth in lettuce (0.0562 %/day) while maintaining BOD5 level (3.94 mg/L) at acceptable level and 100% of catfish survival rate. Our results demonstrated that microwave pyrolysis biochar can be a promising solution for growing nitrifying bacteria in aquaponic system for simultaneous toxic ammonia remediation and generation of nitrate for growing vegetable in aquaculture industry.
  2. Yang Y, Liew RK, Tamothran AM, Foong SY, Yek PNY, Chia PW, et al.
    Environ Chem Lett, 2021 Jan 13.
    PMID: 33462541 DOI: 10.1007/s10311-020-01177-5
    Dwindling fossil fuels and improper waste management are major challenges in the context of increasing population and industrialization, calling for new waste-to-energy sources. For instance, refuse-derived fuels can be produced from transformation of municipal solid waste, which is forecasted to reach 2.6 billion metric tonnes in 2030. Gasification is a thermal-induced chemical reaction that produces gaseous fuel such as hydrogen and syngas. Here, we review refuse-derived fuel gasification with focus on practices in various countries, recent progress in gasification, gasification modelling and economic analysis. We found that some countries that replace coal by refuse-derived fuel reduce CO2 emission by 40%, and decrease the amount municipal solid waste being sent to landfill by more than 50%. The production cost of energy via refuse-derived fuel gasification is estimated at 0.05 USD/kWh. Co-gasification by using two feedstocks appears more beneficial over conventional gasification in terms of minimum tar formation and improved process efficiency.
  3. Yek PNY, Liew RK, Osman MS, Lee CL, Chuah JH, Park YK, et al.
    J Environ Manage, 2019 Apr 15;236:245-253.
    PMID: 30735943 DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.01.010
    Microwave-steam activation (MSA), an innovative pyrolysis approach combining the use of microwave heating and steam activation, was investigated for its potential production of high grade activated carbon (AC) from waste palm shell (WPS) for methylene blue removal. MSA was performed via pyrolytic carbonization of WPS to produce biochar as the first step followed by steam activation of the biochar using microwave heating to form AC. Optimum yield and adsorption efficiency of methylene blue were obtained using response surface methodology involving several key process parameters. The resulting AC was characterized for its porous characteristics, surface morphology, proximate analysis and elemental compositions. MSA provided a high activation temperature above 500 °C with short process time of 15 min and rapid heating rate (≤150 °C/min). The results from optimization showed that one gram of AC produced from steam activation under 10 min of microwave heating at 550 °C can remove up to 38.5 mg of methylene blue. The AC showed a high and uniform surface porosity consisting high fixed carbon (73 wt%), micropore and BET surface area of 763.1 and 570.8 m2/g respectively, hence suggesting the great potential of MSA as a promising approach to produce high grade adsorbent for dye removal.
  4. Hor CJ, Tan YH, Mubarak NM, Tan IS, Ibrahim ML, Yek PNY, et al.
    Environ Res, 2023 Mar 01;220:115169.
    PMID: 36587722 DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.115169
    To date, the development of renewable fuels has become a normal phenomenon to solve the problem of diesel fuel emissions and the scarcity of fossil fuels. Biodiesel production has some limitations, such as two-step processes requiring high free fatty acids (FFAs), oil feedstocks and gum formation. Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) is a newly developed international renewable diesel that uses renewable feedstocks via the hydrotreatment process. Unlike FAME, FFAs percentage doesn't affect the HVO production and sustains a higher yield. The improved characteristics of HVO, such as a higher cetane value, better cold flow properties, lower emissions and excellent oxidation stability for storage, stand out from FAME biodiesel. Moreover, HVO is a hydrocarbon without oxygen content, but FAME is an ester with 11% oxygen content which makes it differ in oxidation stability. Waste sludge palm oil (SPO), an abundant non-edible industrial waste, was reused and selected as the feedstock for HVO production. Techno-economical and energy analyses were conducted for HVO production using Aspen HYSYS with a plant capacity of 25,000 kg/h. Alternatively, hydrogen has been recycled to reduce the hydrogen feed. With a capital investment of RM 65.86 million and an annual production cost of RM 332.56 million, the base case of the SPO-HVO production process was more desirable after consideration of all economic indicators and HVO purity. The base case of SPO-HVO production could achieve a return on investment (ROI) of 89.03% with a payback period (PBP) of 1.68 years. The SPO-HVO production in this study has observed a reduction in the primary greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by up to 90% and the total annual production cost by nearly RM 450 million. Therefore, SPO-HVO production is a potential and alternative process to produce biobased diesel fuels with waste oil.
  5. Foong SY, Cheong KY, Kong SH, Yiin CL, Yek PNY, Safdar R, et al.
    Bioresour Technol, 2023 Nov;387:129592.
    PMID: 37549710 DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2023.129592
    Over the past few decades, extensive research has been conducted to develop cost-effective and high-quality biochar for environmental biodegradation purposes. Pyrolysis has emerged as a promising method for recovering biochar from biomass and waste materials. This study provides an overview of the current state-of-the-art biochar production technology, including the advancements and biochar applications in organic pollutants remediation, particularly wastewater treatment. Substantial progress has been made in biochar production through advanced thermochemical technologies. Moreover, the review underscores the importance of understanding the kinetics of pollutant degradation using biochar to maximize its synergies for potential environmental biodegradation. Finally, the study identifies the technological gaps and outlines future research advancements in biochar production and its applications for environmental biodegradation.
  6. Lam SS, Yek PNY, Ok YS, Chong CC, Liew RK, Tsang DCW, et al.
    J Hazard Mater, 2020 05 15;390:121649.
    PMID: 31753673 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2019.121649
    Improving the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of biochar production is crucial to meet increased global market demand. Here, we developed a single-step microwave steam activation (STMSA) as a simplified yet efficient method to produce microwave activated biochar (MAB) from waste palm shell (WPS). The STMSA recorded a higher heating rate (70 °C/min) and higher conversion (45 wt%) of WPS into highly microporous MAB (micropore surface area of 679.22 m2/g) in contrast with the conventional heating approach (≤ 12-17 wt%). The MAB was then applied as biosorbent for hazardous landfill leachate (LL) treatment and the adsorption performance was compared with commercial activated carbon under different pH, adsorbent quantity, adsorbate concentrations, and contact times. The MAB demonstrated high adsorption capacity, achieving maximum adsorption efficiency at 595 mg/g and 65 % removal of chemical oxygen demand (COD) with 0.4 g/L of adsorbent amount under optimal acidic conditions (pH ≈ 2-3) after 24 h of contact time. The Freundlich isotherm and pseudo second-order kinetic models were well-fitted to explain the equilibrium adsorption and kinetics. The results indicate the viability of STMSA as a fast and efficient approach to produce activated biochar as a biosorbent for the treatment of hazardous landfill leachate.
  7. Yek PNY, Peng W, Wong CC, Liew RK, Ho YL, Wan Mahari WA, et al.
    J Hazard Mater, 2020 08 05;395:122636.
    PMID: 32298946 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.122636
    We developed an innovative single-step pyrolysis approach that combines microwave heating and activation by CO2 or steam to transform orange peel waste (OPW) into microwave activated biochar (MAB). This involves carbonization and activation simultaneously under an inert environment. Using CO2 demonstrates dual functions in this approach, acting as purging gas to provide an inert environment for pyrolysis while activating highly porous MAB. This approach demonstrates rapid heating rate (15-120 °C/min), higher temperature (> 800 °C) and shorter process time (15 min) compared to conventional method using furnace (> 1 h). The MAB shows higher mass yield (31-44 wt %), high content of fixed carbon (58.6-61.2 wt %), Brunauer Emmett Teller (BET) surface area (158.5-305.1 m2/g), low ratio of H/C (0.3) and O/C (0.2). Activation with CO2 produces more micropores than using steam that generates more mesopores. Steam-activated MAB records a higher adsorption efficiency (136 mg/g) compared to CO2 activation (91 mg/g), achieving 89-93 % removal of Congo Red dye. The microwave pyrolysis coupled with steam or CO2 activation thereby represents a promising approach to transform fruit-peel waste to microwave-activated biochar that remove hazardous dye.
  8. Liew RK, Azwar E, Yek PNY, Lim XY, Cheng CK, Ng JH, et al.
    Bioresour Technol, 2018 Oct;266:1-10.
    PMID: 29936405 DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2018.06.051
    A micro-mesoporous activated carbon (AC) was produced via an innovative approach combining microwave pyrolysis and chemical activation using NaOH/KOH mixture. The pyrolysis was examined over different chemical impregnation ratio, microwave power, microwave irradiation time and types of activating agents for the yield, chemical composition, and porous characteristic of the AC obtained. The AC was then tested for its feasibility as textile dye adsorbent. About 29 wt% yield of AC was obtained from the banana peel with low ash and moisture (<5 wt%), and showed a micro-mesoporous structure with high BET surface area (≤1038 m2/g) and pore volume (≤0.80 cm3/g), indicating that it can be utilized as adsorbent to remove dye. Up to 90% adsorption of malachite green dye was achieved by the AC. Our results indicate that the microwave-activation approach represents a promising attempt to produce good quality AC for dye adsorption.
  9. Yek PNY, Wan Mahari WA, Kong SH, Foong SY, Peng W, Ting H, et al.
    Bioresour Technol, 2022 Mar;347:126687.
    PMID: 35007740 DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2022.126687
    Thermal co-processing of lignocellulosic and aquatic biomass, such as algae and shellfish waste, has shown synergistic effects in producing value-added energy products with higher process efficiency than the traditional method, highlighting the importance of scaling up to pilot-scale operations. This article discusses the design and operation of pilot-scale reactors for torrefaction, pyrolysis, and gasification, as well as the key parameters of co-processing biomass into targeted and improved quality products for use as fuel, agricultural application, and environmental remediation. Techno-economic analysis reveals that end product selling price, market dynamics, government policies, and biomass cost are crucial factors influencing the sustainability of thermal co-processing as a feasible approach to utilize the biomass. Because of its simplicity, pyrolysis allows greater energy recovery, while gasification has the highest net present value (profitability). Integration of liquefaction, hydrothermal, and fermentation pre-treatment technology has the potential to increase energy efficiency while reducing process residues.
  10. Wan Mahari WA, Waiho K, Azwar E, Fazhan H, Peng W, Ishak SD, et al.
    Chemosphere, 2022 Feb;288(Pt 2):132559.
    PMID: 34655643 DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.132559
    Global production of shellfish aquaculture is steadily increasing owing to the growing market demands for shellfish. The intensification of shellfish aquaculture to maximize production rate has led to increased generation of aquaculture waste streams, particularly the effluents and shellfish wastes. If not effectively managed, these wastes could pose serious threats to human health and the ecosystem while compromising the overall sustainability of the industry. The present work comprehensively reviews the source, composition, and environmental implications of shellfish wastes and aquaculture wastewater. Moreover, recent advancements in the valorization of shellfish wastes into value-added biochar via emerging thermochemical and modification techniques are scrutinized. The utilization of the produced biochar in removing emerging pollutants from aquaculture wastewater is also discussed. It was revealed that shellfish waste-derived biochar exhibits relatively higher adsorption capacities (300-1500 mg/g) compared to lignocellulose biochar (<200 mg/g). The shellfish waste-derived biochar can be effectively employed for the removal of various contaminants such as antibiotics, heavy metals, and excessive nutrients from aquaculture wastewater. Finally, future research priorities and challenges faced to improve the sustainability of the shellfish aquaculture industry to effectively support global food security are elaborated. This review envisages that future studies should focus on the biorefinery concept to extract more useful compounds (e.g., carotenoid, chitin) from shellfish wastes for promoting environmental-friendly aquaculture.
  11. Foong SY, Chan YH, Lock SSM, Chin BLF, Yiin CL, Cheah KW, et al.
    Bioresour Technol, 2023 Feb;369:128478.
    PMID: 36513306 DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2022.128478
    The valorization and conversion of biomass into various value-added products and bioenergy play an important role in the realization of sustainable circular bioeconomy and net zero carbon emission goals. To that end, microwave technology has been perceived as a promising solution to process and manage oil palm waste due to its unique and efficient heating mechanism. This review presents an in-depth analysis focusing on microwave-assisted torrefaction, gasification, pyrolysis and advanced pyrolysis of various oil palm wastes. In particular, the products from these thermochemical conversion processes are energy-dense biochar (that could be used as solid fuel, adsorbents for contaminants removal and bio-fertilizer), phenolic-rich bio-oil, and H2-rich syngas. However, several challenges, including (1) the lack of detailed study on life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis, (2) limited insights on the specific foreknowledge of microwave interaction with the oil palm wastes for continuous operation, and (3) effects of tunable parameters and catalyst's behavior/influence on the products' selectivity and overall process's efficiency, remain to be addressed in the context of large-scale biomass valorization via microwave technology.
  12. Tan S, Zhou G, Yang Q, Ge S, Liu J, Cheng YW, et al.
    Sci Total Environ, 2023 Mar 15;864:160990.
    PMID: 36539095 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.160990
    Traditional disposal of animal manures and lignocellulosic biomass is restricted by its inefficiency and sluggishness. To advance the carbon management and greenhouse gas mitigation, this review scrutinizes the effect of pyrolysis in promoting the sustainable biomass and manure disposal as well as stimulating the biochar industry development. This review has examined the advancement of pyrolysis of animal manure (AM) and lignocellulosic biomass (LB) in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and operability. In particular, the applicability of pyrolysis biochar in enhancing the crops yields via soil remediation is highlighted. Through pyrolysis, the heavy metals of animal manures are fixated in the biochar, thereby both soil contamination via leaching and heavy metal uptake by crops are minimized. Pyrolysis biochar is potentially use in soil remediation for agronomic and environmental co-benefits. Fast pyrolysis assures high bio-oil yield and revenue with better return on investment whereas slow pyrolysis has low revenue despite its minimum investment cost because of relatively low selling price of biochar. For future commercialization, both continuous reactors and catalysis can be integrated to pyrolysis to ameliorate the efficiency and economic value of pyrolysis biochar.
  13. Wan Mahari WA, Nam WL, Sonne C, Peng W, Phang XY, Liew RK, et al.
    Bioresour Technol, 2020 Sep;312:123572.
    PMID: 32470829 DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2020.123572
    Microwave vacuum pyrolysis of palm kernel shell was examined to produce engineered biochar for application as additive in agriculture application. The pyrolysis approach, performed at 750 W of microwave power, produced higher yield of porous biochar (28 wt%) with high surface area (270 cm2/g) compared to the yield obtained by conventional approach (<23 wt%). Addition of the porous biochar in mushroom substrate showed increased moisture content (99%) compared to the substrate without biochar (96%). The mushroom substrate added with biochar (150 g) was optimal in shortening formation, growth, and full colonization of the mycelium within one month. Using 2.5% of the biochar in mushroom substrate desirably maintained the optimum pH level (6.8-7) during the mycelium colonization period, leading to high mycelium growth (up to 91%) and mushroom yield (up to 280 g). The engineered biochar shows great potential as moisture retention and neutralizing agent in mushroom cultivation.
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