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Photo: Manuel Gutjahr


Valorization of by-products from wet coffee processing: Waste to carbon-rich material using hydrothermal carbonization to improve the sustainability of the coffee value chain in Vietnam
Coordinating Institute
Leibniz-Institut für Agrartechnik und Bioökonomie e.V. (ATB)
GreenMessage-Water & Environment Limited Company
Phuoc An Coffee Company
Bayrischer Bauernverband
Van Lang Universität
Agrokraft GmbH
Artec Biotechnologie GmbH
Maschinen und Betriebshilfsring

Project team ATB
Allocated to research program
Vietnams national strategy for improving the competitiveness of coffee exports aims to improve the product quality of coffee. One proposed measure is to change the processing method of coffee cherries. Instead of the traditional sun drying process used by farmers, higher quality coffee beans are to be produced in processing plants by wet processing. This processing method would also make farmers and other businesses in the value chain less dependent on weather conditions. However, the centralized production method and the large amount of wet by-products and increasing water and energy consumption pose new challenges. The aim of the project is to develop innovative solutions for recycling the by-products of coffee processing. In the project, the use of a new thermochemical conversion process, hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), will be investigated first theoretically and then experimentally. This process allows solid, wet by-products to be converted into carbon-rich materials (hydrochar) at temperatures of 180-250 °C in a relatively short time (minutes to hours). These can be burned to generate process heat or electricity. Since little is known about such conversions of coffee processing by-products, a key research objective will be to demonstrate the technical feasibility of integrating HTC into wet processing plants and their waste and wastewater treatment facilities. The project will develop process combinations with HTC and evaluate their impact on resource use and environmental emissions. Furthermore, by developing a cooperation framework, the project strengthens the scientific cooperation between Germany and Vietnam so that innovative solutions to improve sustainability in the coffee value chain can be implemented. The project is carried out in close cooperation between ATB and Van Lang University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (BMEL)
Funding agency
Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (BLE)
Grant agreement number
Funding framework
PhD-Funding Programme