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Microwave-initiated catalytic deconstruction of plastic waste into hydrogen and high-value carbons

Jie, Xiangyu, Li, Weisong, Slocombe, Daniel, Gao, Yige, Banerjee, Ira, Gonzalez-Cortes, Sergio, Yao, Benzhen, AlMegren, Hamid, Alshihri, Saeed, Dilworth, Jonathan, Thomas, John, Xiao, Tiancun and Edwards, Peter 2020. Microwave-initiated catalytic deconstruction of plastic waste into hydrogen and high-value carbons. Nature Catalysis 3 , pp. 902-912. 10.1038/s41929-020-00518-5

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Abstract

The ubiquitous challenge of plastic waste has led to the modern descriptor plastisphere to represent the human-made plastic environment and ecosystem. Here we report a straightforward rapid method for the catalytic deconstruction of various plastic feedstocks into hydrogen and high-value carbons. We use microwaves together with abundant and inexpensive iron-based catalysts as microwave susceptors to initiate the catalytic deconstruction process. The one-step process typically takes 30–90 s to transform a sample of mechanically pulverized commercial plastic into hydrogen and (predominantly) multiwalled carbon nanotubes. A high hydrogen yield of 55.6 mmol g−1plastic is achieved, with over 97% of the theoretical mass of hydrogen being extracted from the deconstructed plastic. The approach is demonstrated on widely used, real-world plastic waste. This proof-of-concept advance highlights the potential of plastic waste itself as a valuable energy feedstock for the production of hydrogen and high-value carbon materials.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Publisher: Nature Research
ISSN: 2520-1158
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 November 2020
Date of Acceptance: 1 September 2020
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2021 02:05
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/135914

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