Characterization of semi-volatile organic compounds emitted during heating of nitrogen-containing plastics at low temperature

Mafumi Watanabe, Chisto Nakata, Wei Wu, Katsuya Kawamoto, Yukio Noma
Chemosphere 2007, 68 (11): 2063-72
Because of recent volume increases, appropriate management of plastic recycling, which generates various organic compounds, is required to ensure the chemical safety of the processes. The processing temperature and resin type are the important factors determining both the efficiency of the processes and the emission of chemicals. Therefore, we studied the thermal degradation of various plastics at various temperatures from 70 to 300 degrees C under oxygen-present conditions to identify the semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) emitted and to understand their thermal behaviors. The plastics examined were nitrogen-containing resins, such as polyamide 6, polyurethane, melamine formaldehyde, urea formaldehyde and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene. Major commodity plastics were also investigated for comparison. In total, more than 500 SVOCs were detected as emissions from plastics. While various nitrogen-containing SVOCs were detected from nitrogen-containing resins, the major commodity plastics released only these, which possibly were included as additives. These results indicate that the nitrogen atoms in the SVOCs emitted originated from the resins and additives, and not from ambient air at low temperature. As a result of the detection of raw materials, degradation chemicals and by-products of the polymers in the emissions, we found that the variation in chemical species is dependent on the resins. Additives were also emitted from all the resins, meaning that these chemicals were also released to the environment at the temperature examined. In most cases, the numbers and concentrations of SVOCs increased with increasing heating temperature. The variation of thermal behaviors of SVOCs was related to the origins and chemical species of SVOCs.

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