Radical initiated plastic cracking

Mechanistic investigation of the role of radicals within the polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene cracking process over fluid cracking catalyst materials in the presence of radical forming agents

Due to its versatility and stability, plastic is widely used and as a result, the amount of plastic waste accumulates. This accumulation disrupts food chains and ecosystems as it ends up in our oceans which raises the need for sustainable recycling technologies. Plastic cracking is a recycling alternative that could convert the plastic waste that is ill-suited for classical mechanical recycling to fuels and building blocks for polymer production. The cracking process is a widely employed technique in the cracking of crude oils for medicinal precursors, polymer building blocks, and fuels. However, the challenge in modifying this technique for the conversion of plastics like polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS) is the poor surface contact with the solid catalyst particles due to the much higher melt viscosity and the long hydrocarbon chains in comparison with crude oil feedstock. Fortunately, adjusting the polymer viscosity is a common process where radical initiators are added to induce chain scission and obtain the desired plastic properties. In this work plastic cracking of PE, PP and PS on fluid catalytic cracking catalyst will be investigated under the influence of radical initiators.