Thermal degradation of polyethylene and polystyrene from the packaging industry over different catalysts into fuel-like feed stocks

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Thermal degradation of waste polymers was carried out as a suitable technique for converting plastic polymers into liquid hydrocarbons, which could be used as feed stock materials. The catalytic degradation of waste plastics (polyethylene and polystyrene) was investigated in a batch reactor over different catalysts (FCC, ZSM-5 and clinoptillolite). The effects of catalysts and their average grain size on the properties of main degradation products (gases, gasoline, diesel oil) are discussed. The temperature range of 410-450 °C was used in the process. Both equilibrium FCC catalyst and natural clinoptilolite zeolite catalyst had good catalytic activity to produce light hydrocarbon liquids, and ZSM-5 catalyst produced the highest amount of gaseous products. Gases and liquids formed in cracking reactions were analyzed by gas chromatography. The liquid products consisted of a wide spectrum of hydrocarbons distributed within the C5-C28 carbon number range depending on the cracking parameters. The composition of hydrocarbons had linear non-branched structure in case of polyethylene, while from polystyrene more aromatics (ethyl-benzene, styrene, toluene, and benzene) were produced. The yields of volatile products increased with increasing degradation temperature. The olefin content of liquids was measured with an infrared technique and an olefin concentration of 50-60% was observed. The concentration of unsaturated compounds increased with decreasing temperature, and in the presence of catalysts. The activation energies were calculated on the basis of the composition of volatile products. The apparent activation energies were decreased by catalysts and catalyst caused both carbon-chain and double bond isomerisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-526
Number of pages10
JournalPolymer Degradation and Stability
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2006



  • Catalysts
  • Feed stocks
  • Fuel-like fractions
  • Further utilization
  • Octane number
  • Waste polyethylene and polystyrene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

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