This article was originally published here
J Hazard Mater. 2021 Sep 20;424(Pt A):127294. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.127294. Online ahead of print.
Herbal medicine wastes (HMWs) are byproducts of medicine factories, which are mainly landfilled for their environmental problems. Only bearing in mind the contamination and concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental emissions, the worth of herbal medicine wastes management and conversion to green products can be understood. In this work, subcritical water treatment was carried out batch-wise in a stainless tube reactor in the pressure range of 0.792-30.0 MPa, varying the temperature (127-327 °C) and time (1-60 min) of extraction. This resulted in new and green material sources, including organic acids, amino acids, and sugars. Amazingly, at very low extraction times (below 5 min) and high temperatures (above 277 °C), about 99% of HMWs were efficaciously converted to clean products by subcritical hydrothermal treatment. The results of hydrothermal extraction after 5 min indicated that at low temperatures (127-227 °C), the total organic carbon in the aqueous phase increased as the residual solid phase decreased, reaching a peak around 220 °C. Acetone soluble extracts or fat phase appeared above 227 °C and reached a maximum yield of 21% at 357 °C. Aspartic acid, threonine, and glycine were the primary amino acids; glycolic acid, formic acid, lactic acid, and acetic acid were obtained as the main organic acids, glucose, fructose, and cellobiose were substantial sugars produced from the aqueous phase after 5 min of hydrothermal subcritical hydrolysis extraction.