Evaluate the role of heterogenous catalysts and impurities in plastic waste on the obtained products from thermochemical conversion processes such as pyrolysis. The research will entail using advanced experimentation and model feeds in an integrated team of researchers. For catalyst screening, a micropyrolysis-GC technique can be employed and the stability of promising catalyst formulations can be studied using a small bench-scale fluid bed system.
Plastics are a key material within the circular economy. Their broad diversity in terms of composition and processing techniques allows them to be used in a great variety of efficient applications. However, it is exactly this diversity that makes them challenging at end-of-life. The most common approach towards reprocessing plastic is mechanical recycling in which thermoplastics are recycled towards other plastic applications. Complex input materials such as mixed and contaminated plastics, however, typically result in downcycling towards ‘lower grade’ products. For many additives and auxiliary materials or residual fractions (e.g. PVC) from other pretreatment steps, no ‘easy’ separation technology is available. Chemical recycling using thermochemical conversion and catalysis has the potential for closing the loop for mixed end-of-life plastic waste.
A number of tasks will be executed in this research project:
1. Detailed characterisation of the feedstock and overview of impurities
2. Prioritisation of impurities to be tested
3. Catalyst preparation and testing for heterogeneously catalysed chemical recycling of mixed plastic waste to olefins
4. Characterization of freshly prepared and spent catalysts to study deactivation phenomena