Abstract

Mixed, wet, plastic streams containing food waste residues are being increasingly collected at point of use, but are extremely challenging to recycle and are therefore largely sent to landfill. While a challenging waste problem, this also represents an underutilised feedstock, which could be co-processed with biomass, increasing the scope of products, easing out seasonal variation in biomass production and increasing the production capacity of a traditional biorefinery. One promising method of biomass conversion is hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), where lignocellulosic residues are broken down in water at high temperatures and pressures to produce a bio-crude oil, a solid residue and an aqueous fertiliser. In this study, the co-processing of common plastic waste with pistachio hulls was assessed to investigate the suitability of the HTL approach. The HTL of pistachio hulls was undertaken at 350 °C over 15 and 60 min, with four commonly used plastics: polyethylene, polypropylene, PET and nylon-6, in blends of up to 20 wt% plastic to biomass. A novel FT-IR method was developed to estimate the conversion of plastics in the system, and the product phases were fully analysed. High yields of up to 35% bio-crude were achieved, and under optimal conditions, nylon-6 and PET were found to break down almost completely in the system. PET generated numerous products that distributed predominantly into the aqueous phase; the major decomposition product of nylon-6 was found to be the monomer ∊-caprolactam, also largely partitioning into the aqueous phase. The polyolefins were less reactive; a limited degree of decomposition formed oxidised products, which distributed into the bio-crude phase. This result represents a highly promising method for waste plastic valorisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-361
Number of pages11
JournalWaste Management
Volume102
Early online date11 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • Biofuel
  • Biorefinery
  • HTL
  • Plastic
  • Polymer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal

Cite this

Co-processing of common plastics with pistachio hulls via hydrothermal liquefaction. / Hongthong, Sukanya; Raikova, Sonia; Leese, Hannah; Chuck, Chris.

In: Waste Management, Vol. 102, 01.02.2020, p. 351-361.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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