Study of the Viscosity and Thermal Characteristics of Polyolefins/Solvent Mixtures: Applications for Plastic Pyrolysis

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Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental problems that the world is currently facing. Pyrolysis is a frontier technique aimed at converting plastic waste back into virgin-quality resin. However, the transfer of the waste plastic feed into the pyrolysis reactor must be optimized before the process can be upscaled to a continuous process. In this study, a new solvent that reduces the viscosity of molten plastic was introduced and characterized. The results revealed that the polymers are soluble in the ratio of up to 75 wt % plastic and 25 wt % solvent at 240 °C. The viscosity of pure low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and polypropylene (PP) in the solvent was measured in different weight percentages of polymer in solvent (30-80 wt %) and at 160, 180, 200, 220, 240, and 260 °C. The viscosity decreased with the decreasing polymer-weight percentage and with increasing temperature. The viscosity of LDPE/solvent and PPs(isotactic)/solvent is much lower than for HDPE/solvent and PPp(polypropylene impact copolymer)/solvent. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) were applied to characterize the thermal behavior of LDPE, HDPE, and PP in the solvent in three different weight percentages (25, 50, and 75 wt %). The DSC results indicate that in the mixture of PPs/solvent and LDPE/solvent the melting point of PP and LDPE decreases as the amount of solvent increases. Overall, these results indicate that the selected solvent is an effective agent to prepare waste plastics for pyrolysis.

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ACS Omega