Feedstock recycling of agriculture plastic film wastes by catalytic cracking
Feedstock recycling by catalytic cracking of a real plastic film waste from Almeria greenhouses (Spain) towards valuable hydrocarbon mixtures has been studied over several acid catalysts. The plastic film waste was mostly made up of ambient degraded low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer (EVA), the vinyl acetate content being around 4 wt %. Nanocrystalline HZSM-5 zeolite (crystal size ¿ 60 nm) was the only catalyst capable of degrading completely the refuse at 420ºC despite using a very small amount of catalyst (plastic / catalyst mass ratio of 50). However, mesoporous catalysts (Al-SBA-15 and Al-MCM-41), unlike it occurred with virgin LDPE, showed fairly close conversions to that of thermal cracking. Nanocrystalline HZSM-5 zeolite led to 60 wt % selectivity towards C1 - C5 hydrocarbons, mostly valuable C3 - C5 olefins, what would improve the profitability of a future industrial recycling process. The remarkable performance of nanocrystalline HZSM-5 zeolite was ascribed to its high content of strong external acid sites due to its nanometer dimension, which are very active for the cracking of bulky macromolecules. Hence, nanocrystalline HZSM-5 can be regarded as a promising catalyst for a feasible feedstock recycling process by catalytic cracking.
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