Renewable aqueous ammonia from biogas slurry for carbon capture: chemical composition and CO2 absorption rate

Qingyao He, Long Ji, Bing Yu, Shuiping Yan*, Yanlin Zhang, Shuaifei Zhao

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Renewable aqueous ammonia (RAA) can be recovered from biogas slurry by vacuum membrane distillation (VMD). Bio-natural gas can be produced from biogas after removing its CO2 using RAA as the CO2 absorbent. However, RAA contains some impurities, e.g. organic carbon (mainly the volatile fatty acids, VFAs) and inorganic carbon (mainly the dissolved CO2) that may influence its CO2 absorption performance. In this study, RAA was firstly recovered by VMD to investigate the concentrations of free ammonia and impurities in RAA changed with the initial total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) concentration. Then CO2 absorption performance of RAA was investigated in a wetted-wall column, and compared with the unloaded aqueous ammonia (AA). Through VMD, higher TAN concentration of RAA up to 2.4 mol-N/L can be achieved. Due to higher pH value (10.7–11.5), higher than 99% of N element is formed as free ammonia. Additionally, CO2 and some VFAs mainly including ethanol, acetic acid, propionic acid and butyric acid can be extracted from biogas slurry and transferred into RAA. However, their concentrations are much lower than free ammonia in RAA. Furthermore, at 2 mol-N/L, the second-order reaction constant (k2) of RAA is about 4306 L/mol s at 298 K, which is slightly lower than that of AA (4772 L/mol s) due to the negative effect of VFAs. The average overall mass transfer coefficients of RAA are lower by 4.67%–17.31% than that of unloaded aqueous ammonia. Furthermore, increasing the concentration of VFAs and CO2 loading in RAA leads to a rapid decline of the overall mass transfer coefficient of CO2. Butyric acid has the greatest negative impact on CO2 absorption, followed by acetic acid, ethanol and then CO2. However, the increase of TAN concentration in RAA can minimize the negative influence of impurities on CO2 absorption performance.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)46-54
    Number of pages9
    JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


    • Aqueous ammonia
    • Biogas slurry
    • Carbon dioxide capture
    • Renewable absorbent
    • Wetted-wall column


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