Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Director

Sandeep Kumar

Committee Member

Mujde Erten-Unal

Committee Member

Jingdong Mao


Nationally and internationally, waste generation is increasing and along with it negative environmental impacts. Many people think waste ends at disposal; however, environmental impacts have already begun. Unfortunately, 50% of waste ends up in a landfill which is the third largest source of human related methane emissions and a leading cause of global climate change. This study investigated a novel waste management strategy in hopes of mitigating negative environmental effects caused by conventional waste management practices. The novelty of the study lies in the development of an integrated method of hydrothermal carbonization and an anaerobic digestion (HTC + AD) process using mixed municipal solid waste (MSW). If proven feasible, this solution could mitigate many environmental issues associated with conventional incineration and landfilling such as air pollution, groundwater water pollution and limited landfill space, while maximizing organic carbon and resource recovery. The integrated approach (HTC + AD) shows organic carbon recovery of 58% in the form of hydrochar and biogas.

This study has investigated carbonization experiments at different times and temperatures, evaluated aqueous phase and hydrochar properties, and performed a batch anaerobic digestion bench scale test on the aqueous phase to understand product composition and aqueous phase biodegradability from a mixed MSW feedstock representative of waste that would typically go to the landfill. AD of the HTC MSW aqueous phase is feasible; however, improving digestion with AD enhancements is critical in supporting the integrated HTC + AD process.