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Synthesis of aluminum incorporated mesoporous catalysts for pyrolysis of polypropylene

Obalı, Zeynep
The total amount of plastic wastes produced by our society has been growing rapidly. The low biodegradability of these wastes creates a serious environmental problem that is directing the governments and environmental agencies to take serious measures to solve the problem of the plastic wastes. Landfilling or incineration of these wastes are not the right solutions, because the former has the danger of leaching and soil impregnation of its degradation products and the latter produce air pollution problems due to the possible emissions of toxic and acid gases. An alternative approach to the solution of problem caused by these wastes is the recycling of them by chemical recovery. In this method, the waste plastics are thermally non-catalytically or catalytically degraded into gases and oils. In this study, pure and aluminum containing ordered mesoporous materials MCM-type and SBA-type, were synthesized using different aluminum sources and aluminum loadings in order to be tested in catalytic degradation of polypropylene. These catalysts, except aluminum containing SBA-type catalysts, were synthesized by hydrothermal synthesis method. Aluminum containing SBA-type catalysts were synthesized by impregnation method. Tetraethyl orthosilicate was used as the Si source and aluminum nitrate, aluminum sulphate and aluminum isopropoxide were used as the Al source. It was observed that these materials had high surface areas and exhibited Type IV isotherms. In MCM-type materials, the aluminum incorporated more effectively into the structure at low concentrations but not effectively at high concentrations. On the other hand, in SBA-type catalysts, the aluminum incorporation into structure was very effective. 27Al MAS NMR spectra of the catalysts exhibited a mixture of tetrahedral and octahedral aluminum. TEM images showed well-ordered hexagonal arrays of mesopores. As an initial step, the activation energy value of polypropylene pyrolysis reaction in the presence of synthesized catalysts was determined by the help of a thermal analyzer and these TGA results showed a marked reduction in the degradation temperature. In the case of using aluminum containing MCM-type materials, the activation energy values decreased to about 68-126 kJ/mol. On the other hand, when aluminum containing SBA-type catalysts were used, the activation energy values decreased from 172 kJ/mol to a value in the range of 51 – 89 kJ/mol. Heavier molecules degraded into lighter hydrocarbons in the presence of catalysts and they gave high ethylene selectivity among the gaseous products. Additionally, butane selectivity increased with the use of catalysts. SBA-type catalysts showed higher selectivity to lighter hydrocarbons