• Vol 9, No 7 (2018)
  • Chemical Engineering

Improving the Quality of Pyrolysis Oil from Co-firing High-density Polyethylene Plastic Waste and Palm Empty Fruit Bunches

Eny Kusrini, Dijan Supramono, Volkan Degirmenci, Saeful Pranata, Aji Agraning Bawono, Farid Nasir Ani


Cite this article as:
Kusrini, E., Supramono, D., Degirmenci, V., Pranata, S., Bawono, A.A., Ani, F.N., 2018. Improving the Quality of Pyrolysis Oil from Co-firing High-density Polyethylene Plastic Waste and Palm Empty Fruit Bunches. International Journal of Technology. Volume 9(7), pp. 1498-1508
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Eny Kusrini Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, 16424, Indonesia
Dijan Supramono Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, 16424, Indonesia
Volkan Degirmenci School of Engineering, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, United Kingdom
Saeful Pranata Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, 16424, Indonesia
Aji Agraning Bawono Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, 16424, Indonesia
Farid Nasir Ani Department of Thermofluid, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor Bahru 81310 Johor, Malaysia
Email to Corresponding Author

Abstract
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This study aimed to produce and improve the quality of pyrolysis oil as a source of bioenergy that is made by mixing palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic waste. The slow co-pyrolysis method was employed, and HDPE waste and EFB were fed into the pyrolysis reactor at HDPE amounts of 0, 10, 25, 50, 75, and 100% by weight. The pyrolysis oil product was obtained by co-firing EFB with HDPE using the slow co-pyrolysis method in a fixed bed reactor at 500°C with a flow rate of 750 mL/min and a heating rate of 5°C/min. The chemical compositions of pyrolysis oil were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. A pyrolysis oil produced by HDPE 100 wt.% was dominated by the chemical compounds of phenols, aromatics, aliphatic, and acids, while for EFB 100 wt.% was dominated with aldehydes, acids, phenols, furan and aliphatic. The addition of HDPE reduced the amount of pyrolysis oil yield, increased the pH, reduced the viscosity, and reduced the oxygen content of the pyrolysis oil. These results proved that the HDPE affected the decrease in pyrolysis oil and the increase in gas production from co-firing HDPE and EFB using the slow co-pyrolysis method.

Bioenergy; HDPE; Improving the quality; EFB; Pyrolysis oil; Reduced the oxygen

Introduction

Development of new technologies to generate energy from renewable biomass is currently considered a promising alternative fuel source, as fossil fuel supplies are diminishing and their use is increasing carbon dioxide emissions. Various catalytic chemical processes have been proposed to utilize biomass (Pidko et al., 2010; Zhang et al., 2011; Degirmenci et al., 2011a, 2011b; Degirmenci et al., 2014; Oozeerally et al., 2018; Kusrini et al., 2018). However, thermochemical conversion remains one of the most attractive methods because of its compatibility with existing industrial chemical processes. In this respect, pyrolysis is a method of short-chain decomposition through a high-temperature heating process without the use of oxygen, which generates a range of products, namely biochar, gases, and vapors (condensed to obtain pyrolysis oil) (Oudenhoven et al., 2016). The pyrolysis method has economic advantages because it does not require pre-treatment of the feedstock.

Pyrolysis oil is an important alternative energy resource, as it has the potential to replace fossil fuels with a renewable resource to diminish greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time to increase the value of agricultural and plastic waste. Therefore, pyrolysis oil could create an additional economic value for poor communities, such as rural populations and individuals who recycle plastic waste (Sukiran et al., 2017). Pyrolysis oil can be synthesized from forestry biomass, crop residues (agricultural biomass) such as empty fruit bunches (EFB), palm kernel shell, mesocarp fiber, oil palm frond, corn cobs and oil palm trunk (Das et al., 2009; Supramono et al., 2016a; Sukiran et al., 2017). An advantage of agricultural biomass is that it contains less sulfur and is abundantly available as a feedstock.

EFB is the main agricultural waste of the palm industry, and it is an abundant waste biomass that is harvested in tropical regions such as in Indonesia and Malaysia (Purwanto et al., 2015; Ro et al., 2018). EFB quantities have been increasing in recent years due to the increasing cultivation of palm. Although EFB can be returned to the soil as fertilizer or burnt to generate steam for electricity production, most EFB is dumped in landfill because of its low economic value. Thus, a large amount of EFB is currently not utilized and can be used as a feedstock for pyrolysis oil production (Chang, 2014; Purwanto et al., 2015). The oil is obtained from the pyrolysis of EFB at approximately 500°C in a fluidized bed reactor; the calorific value usually is approximately 20 MJ/kg (Sukiran et al., 2017). A similar observation has been reported for pyrolysis of biomass with heating at temperatures of 450–550°C (Oudenhoven et al., 2016). As has been recently reported, rapid pyrolysis that involves brief contact time is a promising method (Das et al., 2009; Kim et al., 2011). The co-pyrolysis method is a more promising way to convert the waste into higher-value oil (Gang & Aimin, 2008). It can reduce the phase separation of pyrolysis oil, and thus it can improve the stability of the oil (Supramono et al., 2016b). This technique can therefore reduce the volume of waste and achieve synergy by co-processing biomass with plastics and other materials (Gang & Aimin, 2008).

Through pyrolysis, environmental pollution could be reduced and the added value of agro-waste could be increased by energy generation mainly through the conversion of agricultural biomass together with plastic (high-density polyethylene [HDPE]) waste into energy. In addition, co-pyrolysis has an advantage over pyrolysis of either agricultural waste or plastic waste separately. The co-pyrolysis product yield is higher than when adding the individual pyrolysis oil produced separately by pyrolysis of agricultural or plastic waste, because of the interaction of free radicals during the thermal treatment process (Bhattacharya et al., 2009; Supramono et al., 2016b). The chemical composition of oil from waste agricultural biomass contains significant amounts of oxygenated organic compounds, and therefore results in a high O/C ratio, high moisture causing low energy density, and a low heating-value product. This also leads to high soot formation. Furthermore, the presence of oxygenated products reduces the stability and therefore the shelf life and storage duration of the oil (Sabil et al., 2013). The consumption of plastic has increased very quickly worldwide, making plastic waste very abundant (Bhattacharya et al., 2009). Increasing plastic demand leads to increasing waste accumulation every year (Sabil et al., 2013; Sharuddin et al., 2016). A significant percentage of plastic dumped in landfills are HDPE (57%) (Sogancioglu et al., 2017). 

The direct use of pyrolysis oil from agricultural waste as a fuel is not viable because of the low heating value of pyrolysis oil. This is caused by the rich oxygen-containing compounds (Ro et al., 2018; Rodionova et al., 2017). Co-pyrolysis of EFB with plastic waste can reduce the oxygen compounds and increase the caloric value of pyrolysis oil. The addition of plastics in biomass pyrolysis increases the yield and the resulting oil calorific value compared with biomass pyrolysis alone, due to the presence of paraffin-containing hydrocarbon polymers, isoparaffin, olefin, naphtha, and aromatics (Bhattacharya et al., 2009; Abnisa et al., 2014; Uzoejinwa et al., 2018).

In this study, we produced pyrolysis oil by co-firing EFB with HDPE using a slow co-pyrolysis method at 500°C with a flow rate of 750 mL/min and a heating rate of 5°C/min using a fixed bed reactor. The EFB and HDPE as feedstock were located inside a metal half-cylindrical boat in a pyrolysis reactor. The characteristics of the pyrolysis oil product were analyzed in detail.

Conclusion

In this work, we have investigated the impact of co-pyrolysis of plastic waste (HDPE) with agricultural waste (EFB) for pyrolysis oil production. We demonstrated that the addition of HDPE waste in EFB reduces the pyrolysis oil yield. The pH of pyrolysis oil is increased with lower EFB, which is an advantage for its further use. 

Acknowledgement

The authors greatly acknowledge the Universitas Indonesia for financial support through Multidiscipline Grant No. 1650/UN2.R12/HKP.05.00/2015. Authors thank Assoc. Dr. Anwar Usman of Universiti Brunei Darussalam for providing graphical abstract of this manuscript.

 

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