Catalytic degradation of waste rubbers and plastics over zeolites to produce aromatic hydrocarbons

Jia Wang, Jianchun Jiang, Yunjuan Sun, Xiaobo Wang, Mi Li, Shusheng Pang, Roger Ruan, Arthur J. Ragauskas, Yong Sik Ok, Daniel C.W. Tsang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Catalytic conversion of waste rubbers and plastics into aromatic hydrocarbons is a promising approach to waste management and energy recovery. In the present study, acidic HY zeolites were supported by cobalt, iron, and zirconium, and the catalysts were characterized by powder X-ray diffraction, nitrogen adsorption-desorption, ammonia temperature programmed desorption, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and pyridine-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The catalytic degradation of waste polybutadiene rubbers (BR) was conducted to investigate the degradation mechanism and evaluate the catalytic activity of supported zeolites. Experimental results indicated that HY loaded by zirconium and iron led to a higher content of Lewis acid sites as opposed to cobalt supported one. Compared with the non-catalytic pyrolysis of BR, the zirconium supported HY (Zr/HY) led to a 10-fold increase in aromatic hydrocarbons production with a distinctively high selectivity of 97.9%. A series of waste polymers including waste tires (WT), polyethylene (PE), polycarbonate (PC), and BR, were subjected to catalytic pyrolysis to explore the effects of polymer type on aromatic hydrocarbons generation, and BR was the most effective substrate, with yield enhancement reaching 2.4 over Zr/HY. Catalytic co-pyrolysis of waste rubbers and plastics was conducted to probe the effect of polymer structure on aromatic hydrocarbons formation, where a significant synergistic effect was observed in the PE co-fed with PC run.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number127469
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 52006106 ), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (No. BK2020789 ), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2020TQ0154 ), and the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (PolyU 15217818).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Catalytic pyrolysis
  • Plastic recycling/valorization
  • Polybutadiene rubber
  • Sustainable waste management


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