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Article

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

1
Energy Safety Research Institute, Swansea University, Bay Campus, Swansea SA1 8EN, UK
2
Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Swansea University, Bay Campus, Swansea SA1 8EN, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Seeram Ramakrishna and Yong Liu
Polymers 2022, 14(1), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym14010112
Received: 24 November 2021 / Revised: 23 December 2021 / Accepted: 24 December 2021 / Published: 29 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling of Plastics)
The inherent value and use of hydrocarbons from waste plastics and solvents can be extended through open-loop chemical recycling, as this process converts plastic to a range of non-plastic materials. This process is enhanced by first creating plastic–solvent combinations from multiple sources, which then are streamlined through a 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 in 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 the open-loop chemical recycling of plastics, avoiding the growth of waste plastic by utilising them as a carbon feedstock towards a circular economy framework. View Full-Text
Keywords: plastic waste; chemical recycling; mathematical modelling; carbon feedstock; circular economy; open-loop recycling; acrylonitrile butadiene styrene; polystyrene; toluene plastic waste; chemical recycling; mathematical modelling; carbon feedstock; circular economy; open-loop recycling; acrylonitrile butadiene styrene; polystyrene; toluene
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MDPI and ACS Style

Tsampanakis, I.; Orbaek White, A. The Mechanics of Forming Ideal Polymer–Solvent Combinations for Open-Loop Chemical Recycling of Solvents and Plastics. Polymers 2022, 14, 112. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym14010112

AMA Style

Tsampanakis I, Orbaek White A. The Mechanics of Forming Ideal Polymer–Solvent Combinations for Open-Loop Chemical Recycling of Solvents and Plastics. Polymers. 2022; 14(1):112. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym14010112

Chicago/Turabian Style

Tsampanakis, Ioannis, and Alvin Orbaek White. 2022. "The Mechanics of Forming Ideal Polymer–Solvent Combinations for Open-Loop Chemical Recycling of Solvents and Plastics" Polymers 14, no. 1: 112. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym14010112

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