Chemical and Environmental Engineering Group

Chemical recycling of plastic wastes

Plastic waste management constitutes today an important environmental problem. Only in Western Europe, 24 million tonnes of plastic wastes are generated annually, and 53% of this amount ends up in landfills, 29% is incinerated with energy recovery and only 18% is recycled, mostly by mechanical methods (16%). A potentially interesting alternative is the named feedstock recycling which tries to convert plastic wastes into chemical raw materials or fuels. Currently, only 2% of the plastic waste is chemically recycled despite the evident interest of the obtained products by this route. The main reason of this situation is the need of a higher technological development as well as to the high investment cost. However, the economics turns to be favourable when dealing with great amounts and also, considering the growing price of the oil barrel. There are several technologies that can be applied within the feedstock recycling of plastics such as cracking, gasification, oxidation, etc. Currently, in our group, there are several research lines about feedstock recycling that investigate mostly the catalytic hydroreforming of the products derived from the thermal cracking of plastic wastes using bifunctional catalysts and the catalytic cracking of polyolefins using acid solids. In both cases, the goal is obtaining fuels such as gasolines and gasoils. For many of these processes, mesostructured catalysts and hierarchical zeolites, developed in our own research group, are used that show the textural and acid properties suitable to deal with the bulky macromolecules of the plastic waste. This bulky character leads towards the usage of especially designed catalysts with high accessibility because if conventional catalysts are used, low activities are obtained due to the appearance of mass transfer constraints.

Current research projects:

Obtención, en planta piloto, de combustibles de automoción a partir de residuos plásticos urbanos

Financial Support: Urbaser

  • Start Year: 2013
  • End Year: 2015

Obtención, en planta piloto, de combustibles de automoción a partir de residuos plásticos urbanos

Financial Support: Urbaser

  • Start Year: 2013
  • End Year: 2015

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