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Recovery material from a new designed surgical face mask: A complementary approach based on mechanical and thermo-chemical recycling

TitleRecovery material from a new designed surgical face mask: A complementary approach based on mechanical and thermo-chemical recycling
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsOccasi, G., De Angelis Doina, Scarsella M., Tammaro Marco, Tuccinardi Letizia, and Tuffi Riccardo
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Keywordsanalytic method, article, carbon, catalyst, COVID-19, Degradation, elemental analysis, Fly ash, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, hydrocarbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, plastic, plastic waste, polybutylene terephthalate, polymerization, polyolefin, polypropylene, Pyrolysis, Recovery, Recycling, sample, sulfur, Temperature, thermal analysis, thermo chemical recycling, Thermochemistry, three dimensional printing, zeolite

The usage of disposable face mask to control the spread of COVID-19 disease has led to the alarming generation of a huge amount of plastic waste in a short span of time. On other hand, face masks are made of high-quality thermoplastic polymers that could be recovered and converted into valuable products. The aim of this study is to investigate a complementary approach for the recycling of face mask in lab-scale plants: the mechanical recycling of the filter in polypropylene (PP) and the chemical recycling of the whole face mask. For this purpose, a new designed surgical face mask was chemically and physically characterized. The results shows that the face mask was composed of 92.3 wt% high grade PP (filter), very similar to virgin PP but with a high melt volume index (MVI, 385 cm3/10 min) due to its non-woven manufacturing. The PP from face mask was mixed with recycled virgin PP in order to obtain a MVI suitable for the extrusion process and recycled as filament for 3D printing. This filament was used to print a specimen with a very similar visual quality of that printed with a commercial PP filament. Simultaneously, the whole face mask underwent a pyrolysis process to produce new feedstocks or fuels. Low-cost catalysts derived from coal fly ash (CFA) were employed to enhance the production of light hydrocarbons. In particular, the synthetized acid X zeolite (HX/CFA) improved the yield of light fractions up to 91 wt% (79 wt% for thermal pyrolysis) and the quality of the light oil with the 85% of C6–C10 (55% for thermal pyrolysis). Furthermore, HX/CFA decreased the degradation temperature of PP to 384 °C versus 458 °C of thermal cracking. © 2022 Elsevier Ltd


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Citation KeyOccasi2022