The production and demand of plastics has drastically increased, with severe environmental impact. Waste incineration is not favored, and efficient recycling strategies are needed. Pyrolysis is a promising approaches but the nature of the residual coke is not fully understood. To explore the value of this feedstock, thermal analysis with mass spectrometric detection is deployed. With soft photoionization, we were able to identify alkenes, dienes, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which were emitted at four distinct mass loss events. Resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization allows selectively addressing the aromatic constituents. Interestingly, we found an enrichment of UV-stabilizers, such as benzophenone, within the macromolecular nature. High-resolution mass spectrometry addressing the isobaric complexity and pyrolysis gas chromatography was used for structural elucidation. We hypothesize island- and archipelago-type structural motives comparable to asphaltenes but with almost no heteroatoms. The in-depth chemical description of plastic pyrolysis coke will be valuable knowledge in reactor design and material science.
Comprehensive chemical description of pyrolysis chars from low-density polyethylene (LDPE) by thermal analysis hyphenated to different mass spectrometric approaches
21 June 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.