In recent years, the research regarding waste conversion to resources technology has attracted growing attention with the continued increase of waste accumulation issues and rapid depletion of natural resources. However, the study, with respect to utilizing plastics waste as carbon resources in the metals industry, is still limited. In this work, an environmentally friendly approach to utilize snack packaging plastic waste as a valuable carbon resources for steel carburization is investigated. At high temperature, plastic waste could be subject to pyrolytic gasification and decompose into small molecular hydrocarbon gaseous products which have the potential to be used as carburization agents for steel. When heating some snack packaging plastic waste and a steel sample together at the carburization temperature, a considerable amount of carbon-rich reducing gases, like methane, could be liberated from the plastic waste and absorbed by the steel sample as a carbon precursor for carburization. The resulting carburization effect on steel was investigated by optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, electron probe microanalyzer, and X-ray photoelectron spectrometer techniques. These investigation results all showed that snack packaging plastic waste could work effectively as a valuable carbon resource for steel carburization leading to a significant increase of surface carbon content and the corresponding microstructure evolution in steel.
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