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Monomer recovery through advanced pyrolysis of waste high density polyethylene (HDPE)


Plastic use has increased by a twenty fold since the 1950’s and so has the amount of plastic waste generated. Although legislation promotes reuse and recycling, still over 50% of Europe’s plastic waste are still disposed in landfills. Therefore, millions of tonnes of plastic end up in the environment provoking severe harm and wasting tonnes of resources (i.e. fossil fuels) and generating a need for advanced treatments, i.e. pyrolysis. Commonly only a small amount of monomer (i.e. ethylene, C2H4) but large amount of waxy products i.e aliphatic hydrocarbons that require further refinement are recovered from conventional pyrolysis of high density polyethylene (HDPE). Therefore, direct conversion of HDPE waste into high added value products would be more desirable. In this study, experiments were carried out using cold plasma assisted pyrolysis of waste HDPE for valorisation. With the assistance of cold plasma up to 22-25 wt% ethylene was recovered from HDPE waste, up to 55 times higher than that obtained in conventional pyrolysis of waste HDPE. Catalytic cold plasma pyrolysis showed that the addition of only 3-10 wt% HZMS-5 or sulphated zirconia doubled the gas (up to 41 wt%) and subsequently the ethylene yield at low temperatures. This study opens up opportunities to valorise unsorted waste into intermediates for chemical processes via a simple process.

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Publication details

The article was received on 05 Dec 2017, accepted on 13 Mar 2018 and first published on 13 Mar 2018

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7GC03662K
Citation: Green Chem., 2018, Accepted Manuscript
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    Monomer recovery through advanced pyrolysis of waste high density polyethylene (HDPE)

    L. S. Diaz-Silvarrey, K. Zhang and A. N. Phan, Green Chem., 2018, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C7GC03662K

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