Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Mechanics of Forming Ideal Polymer Solvent Combinations for Open-Loop Chemical Recycling of Plastics and Solvents

Version 1 : Received: 24 November 2021 / Approved: 25 November 2021 / Online: 25 November 2021 (15:26:23 CET)

How to cite: Tsampanakis, I.; Orbaek White, A. The Mechanics of Forming Ideal Polymer Solvent Combinations for Open-Loop Chemical Recycling of Plastics and Solvents. Preprints 2021, 2021110481 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202111.0481.v1). Tsampanakis, I.; Orbaek White, A. The Mechanics of Forming Ideal Polymer Solvent Combinations for Open-Loop Chemical Recycling of Plastics and Solvents. Preprints 2021, 2021110481 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202111.0481.v1).

Abstract

The inherent value and use of hydrocarbon from waste plastics and solvents can be extended through open-loop chemical recycling as this process converts plastic to range of non-plastic materials. This process is enhanced by first creating plastic-solvent-combinations from multiple sources which are then streamlined through single process stream. We report on the relevant mechanics for streamlining industrially relevant polymers such as polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) into chemical slurries mixed with various organic solvents such as toluene, xylene and cyclohexane. The miscibility of the polymer feedstock within the solvent was evaluated using the Relative Energy Difference method, and the dissolution process was evaluated using the “Molecular theories in a continuum framework” model. These models were used to design a batch process yielding 1 tonne/h slurry by setting appropriate assumptions including constant viscosity of solvents, disentanglement-controlled dissolution mechanism and linear increase of the dissolved polymer’s mass fraction over time. Solvent selection was found to be the most critical parameter for the dissolution process. The characteristics of the ideal solvent are high affinity to the desired polymer and low viscosity. This work serves as a universal technical guideline for open-loop chemical recycling of plastics avoiding the growth of waste plastic in a circular economy framework.

Keywords

plastic waste; chemical recycling; mathematical modelling; carbon feedstock; circular economy; open-loop recycling; acrylonitrile butadiene styrene; polystyrene; toluene

Subject

CHEMISTRY, Chemical Engineering

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