Fundamental understanding of the thermal degradation mechanisms of waste tires and their air pollutant generation in a N2 atmosphere

Eilhann Kwon, Marco J Castaldi
Environmental Science & Technology 2009 August 1, 43 (15): 5996-6002
The thermal decomposition of waste tires has been characterized via thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA) tests, and significant mass loss has been observed between 300 and 500 degrees C. A series of gas chromatography-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) measurements, in which the instrument was coupled to a TGA unit, have been carried out to investigate the thermal degradation mechanisms as well as the air pollutant generation including volatile organic carbons (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in a nitrogen atmosphere. In order to understand fundamental information on the thermal degradation mechanisms of waste tires, the main constituents of tires, poly-isoprene rubber (IR) and styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), have been studied under the same conditions. All of the experimental work indicated that the bond scission on each monomer of the main constituents of tires was followed by hydrogenation and gas phase reactions. This helped to clarify the independent pathways and species attributable to IR and SBR during the pyrolysis process. To extend that understanding to a more practical level, a flow-through reactor was used to test waste tire, SBR and IR samples in the temperature range of 500-800 degrees C at a heating rate of approximately 200 degrees C. Lastly, the formation of VOCs (approximately 1-50 PPMV/10 mg of sample) and PAHs (approximately 0.2-7 PPMV/10 mg of sample) was observed at relatively low temperatures compared to conventional fuels, and its quantified concentration was significantly high due to the chemical structure of SBR and IR. The measurement of chemicals released during pyrolysis suggests not only a methodology for reducing the air pollutants but also the feasibility of petrochemical recovery during thermal treatment.

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