Kinetic Study of Paper Waste Thermal Degradation

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Paper waste generation has been rising in the past decades, with a large amount being landfilled. These paper wastes can be great energy sources after thermal treatment since they are considered carbon neutral. These wastes contain mainly cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and some minerals. The thermal decomposition of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin have been extensively studied, however, the knowledge of thermal degradation of paper wastes at lower temperatures, which are more practical for industrial applications are still lacking. In this study, paper wastes have been characterized and thermogravimetric analyses were performed from 200°C to 400°C and the char produced were analyzed by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Two kinetic approaches were taken while developing the kinetic model of paper waste thermal degradation: (i) reconstructing the TGA results of paper waste thermal degradation by an additive law of the degradation of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin; (ii) considering paper waste as one material and develop a multi-step consecutive reaction mechanism that focuses on solid products at different temperatures. It was observed that there are potential interactions between cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin during paper waste degradation. Therefore, the second approach was concluded to be more plausible, and one set of kinetic parameters were determined according to the experimental results at different temperatures. These results provided insights into the degradation kinetic mechanism and solid product distribution of the paper waste. It was found that the first reaction was due to dehydration of cellulose and the 6th and 7th reaction can be attributed to the thermal degradation of lignin. The NMR and FTIR results also validated that the cellulose started degrading at lower temperatures, and lignin degradation became more pronounced at higher temperatures.

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Polymer Degradation and Stability