• emmanuelstiels

The Value in Pyrolysis

Introduction


When you think of waste, you think of something that no longer has any use. If you throw out packaging, you think of it as rubbish- you’re done with it, it doesn’t serve a purpose, except to be shipped off and recycled somewhere. But what if we told you that pyrolysis turns this “waste” into a valuable resource? What if that non-recyclable plastic isn’t actually waste, it’s a valuable raw material?


Pyrolysis can deliver high value chemicals, as well as useful feedstocks relating to energy such as gases, oils and solids. Some more uses are highlighted below.


What is pyrolysis?


Pyrolysis is the way in which materials like plastic can be re-manufactured into valuable resources by the use of heat, without adding extra air or oxygen. These materials could be disposed of at industrial levels, as well as post-consumer. This makes pyrolysis an important waste management tool, as with the help of modern pyrolysis technology is inexpensive than disposal to landfills. It is a simple, inexpensive technology for processing a wide variety of feedstocks.


To be clear, pyrolysis isn’t incineration. It differs as heat is used in the absence of oxygen to convert the substance to useful product, but still preserving the carbon as much as possible.Pyrolysis is ultimately a way of upgrading the waste by using heat and biomass into higher calorie-value fuels.


Some of the end products of pyrolysis are:


  • Crude oil

  • Diesel

  • Gasoline

  • Hydrogen

  • Ethanol

  • Methanol

  • Incorporated into steel,

  • Cement

  • Tarmac

  • Biochar


Why is there value in pyrolysis?


There is so much value in pyrolysis! The unique heating process is key because all the contaminants and other nasty materials are removedand in some cases, destroyed. This leaves our valuable raw materials. For example, pyrolysis can be used to break down tyres into compounds.


Tyres contribute hugely to landfill, and are both an economic and environmental burden. However, when tyres are put through pyrolysis, they are broken down into and used for:


  • Gas and oil- these are excellent sources for fuel

  • Carbon Black- used as a pigment and filler in rubber, new tyres, charcoal and coatings


Value is gained from thepyrolysis, as well as reducing the environmental burden of discarding the tyres.


As well as creating materials of value, pyrolysis can remove the nasty materials present in “waste”. For instance, in the case of sewage sludge, synthetic hormones undergo pyrolysis and as a result, the heavy metals which remain in the sludge become inert. This then allows the sludge to be used safely as a fertiliser.


Waste to Valuable


It’s clear that pyrolysis is in a category of its own. Pyrolysis can turn plastic waste into oil or other valuable resources- the plastic is no longer waste, but a valuable resource. Pyrolysis recycling is waste to valuable. The absence of air used in the process means that the final product is of a very high calorific value, revolutionising the resource efficiency cycle.


For more information on pyrolysis, check out our page here.