Coal and plastic waste co-pyrolysis by thermal analysis–mass spectrometry

S. Melendi-Espina, R. Alvarez, M. A. Diez, M. D. Casal

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Simultaneous thermogravimetry–mass spectrometry studies of a pyrolytic decomposition of mixtures of different plastic wastes/coking coal were carried out. The investigation was performed at temperatures up to 1000 °C in a helium atmosphere under dynamic conditions at a heating rate of 25 °C/min. Five thermoplastics, commonly found in municipal wastes: low density polyethylene (LDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and a plastic mixture rich in polyolefins were selected. Thermogravimetric parameters, together with different characteristic ion fragments from selected libraries of evolving products during the co-pyrolysis process were monitored, such as hydrogen, CO2 and aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons. Based on the results obtained, a synergistic effect between coal and individual residues has been found. The maximum interaction occurs at temperatures close to the maximum release of volatile matter of the plastic waste. There is a delay in the decomposition of the plastics that together with the changes in the composition of the volatile matter evolved, promote interactions between the components and have negative effects on coal fluidity. The polyolefinic wastes (HDPE, LDPE and PP) degrade at temperatures close to that of maximum coal degradation, modifying the thermal behaviour of the coal to a lesser degree. However, PS and PET, that release their volatile matter mostly in the early stage of the coal decomposition, show a more pronounced influence on the thermal behaviour. Moreover, the kinetic data demonstrates that the addition of polyolefins increases the energy required to initiate pyrolysis compared to PS and PET. All of these results agree with the fact that polyolefins reduce coal fluidity in a more moderate way than PET and PS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351–358
Number of pages8
JournalFuel Processing Technology
Early online date11 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015


  • Coal
  • Plastic wastes
  • Co-pyrolysis
  • TG-MS
  • Evolved gas

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