Plastic waste is an increasing economic and environmental problem as such there is a great need to process this waste and reduce its environmental impact. In this work, the pyrolysis of high density polyethylene (HDPE) waste products was investigated using both thermal and catalytic cracking techniques. The experimental work was carried out using packed bed reactor operating under an inert atmosphere at 450 °C. Different reactor bed materials, including sand, cement and white clay were used to enhance the thermal cracking of HDPE. In addition, the catalytic effect of sodium hydroxide, HUSY and HBeta zeolite catalysts on the degradation of HDPE waste was also investigated. The reactor beds were found to significantly alter the yield as well as the product composition. Products such as paraffins (≤C44), olefins (≤C22), aromatics (≤C14) and alcohols (C 16 and C17) were obtained at varying rates. The highest yield of liquid (82%) was obtained over a cement powder bed with a paraffin yield of 58%. The yield of paraffins and olefins followed separate paths, for paraffins it was found to increase in the order or Cement > White clay > Silica Sand, whereas for the olefins it was in the reverse order Silica Sand > White clay > Cement. The results obtained in this work exhibited a higher P/O ratio than expected, where the amount of generated paraffins was greater than 60% in most cases. Less olefin was generated as a consequence. This indicates that the product generated is more suited to be used as a fuel rather than as a chemical feedstock. The carbon chain length was narrowed to C 10-C28 when the zeolitic catalysts were employed, as well as a significant yield of aromatics was obtained mainly naphthalene and d-limonene as an indication that the products obtained are fuel-like products.
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