Biochar and hydrochar are carbonaceous materials with valuable applications. They can be synthesized from a wide range of organic wastes, including digestate. Digestate is the byproduct of anaerobic digestion (AD), which is performed for bioenergy (biogas) production from organic residues. Through a thermochemical process, such as pyrolysis, gasification, and hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), digestate can be converted into biochar or hydrochar. The addition of either biochar or hydrochar in AD has been reported to improve biochemical reactions and microbial growth, increasing the buffer capacity, and facilitating direct interspecies electrons transfer (DIET), resulting in higher methane (CH4) yields. Both biochar and hydrochar can adsorb undesired compounds present in biogas, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), ammonia (NH3), and even siloxanes. However, an integrated understanding of biochar and hydrochar produced from digestate through their return to the AD process, as additives or as adsorbents for biogas purification, is yet to be attained to close the material flow loop in a circular economy model. Therefore, this overview aimed at addressing the integration of biochar and hydrochar production from digestate, their utilization as additives and effects on AD, and their potential to adsorb biogas contaminants. This integration is supported by life cycle assessment (LCA) studies, showing positive results when combining AD and the aforementioned thermochemical processes, although more LCA is still necessary. Techno-economic assessment (TEA) studies of the processes considered are also presented, and despite an expanding market of biochar and hydrochar, further TEA is required to verify the profitability of the proposed integration, given the specificities of each process design. Overall, the synthesis of biochar and hydrochar from digestate can contribute to improving the AD process, establishing a cyclic process that is in agreement with the circular economy concept.

Matheus Cavali holds a degree in Environmental and Sanitary Engineering from the Federal University of Fronteira Sul, Brazil, and a master’s degree in Bioprocess Engineering and Biotechnology from the Federal University of Paran√°, Brazil. He researched biodiesel production from agro-industrial residues through chemical and enzymatic catalysis, and also pretreatment and fractionation of lignocellulosic biomass for waste valorization. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the Graduate Program in Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, where he researches hydrochar production. He has published in different peer-reviewed journals.