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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

ISSN 2095-2201

ISSN 2095-221X(Online)

CN 10-1013/X

Postal Subscription Code 80-973

2018 Impact Factor: 3.883

Front. Environ. Sci. Eng.    2017, Vol. 11 Issue (5) : 11
Pyrolysis of WEEE plastics using catalysts produced from fly ash of coal gasification
Marika Benedetti1, Lorenzo Cafiero1, Doina De Angelis1, Alessandro Dell’Era2, Mauro Pasquali2, Stefano Stendardo3, Riccardo Tuffi1(), Stefano Vecchio Ciprioti2()
1. Department for Sustainability, ENEA – Casaccia Research Center, Via Anguillarese 301, S. Maria di Galeria, Rome, Italy
2. Department of SBAI, Sapienza University of Rome, Via del Castro Laurenziano 7, 00161 Rome, Italy
3. Department of Energy Technologies, ENEA – Casaccia Research Center, Via Anguillarese 301, S. Maria di Galeria, Rome, Italy
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The effect of fly ash derived catalysts on pyrolysis of WEEE plastics was investigated.

A waste stream is recovered as a valuable resource for a new process.

Refused derived catalysts reduce the environmental impact and production costs.

Higher yields of light oil are obtained using fly ash derived catalysts.

Fly ash derived catalysts boost cracking effect and increase monoaromatics content in the oil.

Catalytic pyrolysis of thermoplastics extracted from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) was investigated using various fly ash-derived catalysts. The catalysts were prepared from fly ash by a simple method that basically includes a mechanical treatment followed by an acid or a basic activation. The synthesized catalysts were characterized using various analytical techniques. The results showed that not treated fly ash (FA) is characterized by good crystallinity, which in turn is lowered by mechanical and chemical treatment (fly ash after mechanical and acid activation, FAMA) and suppressed almost entirely down to let fly ash become completely amorphous (fly ash after mechanical and basic activation FAMB). Simultaneously, the surface area resulted increased. Subsequently, FA, FAMB and FAMA were used in the pyrolysis of a WEEE plastic sample at 400°C and their performance were compared with thermal pyrolysis at the same temperature. The catalysts principally improve the light oil yield: from 59wt.% with thermal pyrolysis to 83 wt.% using FAMB. The formation of styrene in the oil is also increased: from 243 mg/g with thermal pyrolysis to 453 mg/g using FAMB. As a result, FAMB proved to be the best catalyst, thus producing also the lowest and the highest amount of char and gas, respectively.

Keywords Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) plastic mixture      Pyrolysis      Catalyst      Fly ash      Oil     
Corresponding Authors: Riccardo Tuffi,Stefano Vecchio Ciprioti   
Issue Date: 31 October 2017
 Cite this article:   
Marika Benedetti,Lorenzo Cafiero,Doina De Angelis, et al. Pyrolysis of WEEE plastics using catalysts produced from fly ash of coal gasification[J]. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng., 2017, 11(5): 11.
Plastic Composition
(from external housing)
(from external housing)
(from printed circuit board)
Elemental Analysis
Proximate Analysis
MoistureVolatile matterFixed CarbonAsh
Low Heating Value
Tab.1  Plastic composition, elemental analysis, proximate analysis and energetic content of Real WEEE
Fig.1  Schematic flow diagram of the treatments of fly ash used as catalysts in the pyrolysis of WEEE plastics
Fig.2  The XRD analysis of original FA(sample 1), FAMA(sample 2) and FAMB(sample 3)
Fig.3  SEM images of a) FA, b) FAMA and c) FAMB
ExperimentLight oil (wt.%)Heavy oil (wt.%)Char (wt.%)Gas (wt.%)
Tab.2  Thermal and catalytic pyrolysis yields
RT (min)AttributionFormulaThermalFAFAMAFAMB
6.34Benzene, (1-methylethyl)-C9H122.
24.79Benzene, 1,1'-(1,3-propanediyl)bis-C15H166.
26.23Benzene, 1,1'-(2-butene-1,4-diyl)bis-C16H160.
26.35Benzene, 1,1'-(1,2-dimethyl-1,2-ethanediyl)bis-C16H180.
27.95Benzene, 1,1'-(3-methyl-1-propene-1,3-diyl)bis-C16H160.
33.81Naphthalene, 1-(phenylmethyl)-C17H140.
Tab.3  Detected compounds by GC-MS in the produced light oils, with relative area≥0.1% and similarity≥90%
Fig.4  Yield of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and styrene and of their sum, on the weight of Real WEEE pyrolyzed with or without catalyst
Tab.4  Gas composition and energy content of gaseous mixtures
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