High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a major component of polyethylene waste, yet only under 29.9% of waste HDPE is recycled. As an important additive, polyethylene wax (PEW) is increasingly used in many industries such as plastics, dyes, and paints. The preparation of PEW has received considerable interest because recycling and precisely controllable production can bring huge economic benefits. In this study, to recycle waste HDPE, a single screw extruder was innovatively combined with a connecting pipe to prepare PEW from the pyrolysis of waste HDPE. Using a test platform, PEWs were prepared under different pyrolysis temperatures and screw speeds, and corresponding number-average molecular weights (NAMWs) of PEWs were measured. To precisely monitor NAMW of PEW, a program was developed in MATLAB. First, the relationship between NAMW and pyrolysis ratio was obtained, and a measure-point-independence verification was conducted. Then, modified Arrhenius equations and time-dependent pyrolysis temperature were for the first time introduced into the HDPE pyrolysis model. Furthermore, the screw-speed-dependent inverse method was proposed and validated for high-precision monitoring of NAMW of PEW from the pyrolysis of waste HDPE by extrusion. PEW of desired molecular weight was able to be precisely obtained from waste HDPE.
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