FLEXI-PYROCAT - FLEXIble PYROlysis-CATalysis processing of waste plastics for the selective production of high value products

A European Commission Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) project (H2020-MSCA-RISE-2014: Project 643322).

This Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) project aims to develop and maintain long term collaborations between Universities in the EU with China and Australia.

The research unites those with a common goal to advance waste pyrolysis technology by the introduction of novel catalysts to produce an innovative two-stage pyrolysis-catalytic process and to exploit that technology. The technology allows flexible processing of waste plastics to selectively target and produce high value products - (i) hydrogen, (ii) carbon nanotubes, (iii) chemicals or (iv) gasoline.

Our partners in China (Tsinghua and Huazhong Universities) have expertise in the novel advanced thermal processing of wastes, developed to pilot and demonstration scale. Our Australian partner (Sydney University) has expertise in emerging catalytic technologies coupled with green chemical processes. Within the EU, the University of Hull (UK) brings expertise in process and systems modelling and the University of Pannonia (Hungary) has expertise in fuels analysis and testing, materials characterisation and composite fabrication and testing.

The project targets 25 million tonnes of waste plastics generated in the EU each year, which through research and innovation can be turned from a waste problem into a valuable resource for high value products.

Recent activities:

  • Professor Paul Williams discusses the FLEXI-PYROCAT project with senior PlasticsEurope representatives on their recent visit to the waste processing laboratory at the University of Leeds. Adrian Whyle is the Resource Efficiency Senior Manager at PlasticsEurope and Guy Castelan is responsible for Technical, Regulatory and LCA issues. PlasticsEurope is the leading association of plastics manufacturers in Europe.
  • 8th International Symposium on Feedstock Recycling of Polymeric Materials, September 7th-10th, Leoben, Austria
    • A paper outlining the FLEXI-PYROCAT project was presented at the 8th International Symposium on Feedstock Recycling of Polymeric Materials, in Leoben, Austria (September 7th-10th, 2015) entitled, "FLEXI-PYROCAT: An EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action project on the flexible pyrolysis-catalysis processing of waste plastics for selective production of high value products". (pp 110-113, 2015). The paper was authored by Williams P.T., Wang M., Miskolczi N., Zhang Y., Chen H., Huang J. and presented at the Symposium by Professor Paul Williams, University of Leeds, who is the co-ordinator of the EU project.
  • Juniza Saad recently visited Huazhong University of Science & Technology (HUST), Wuhan, China for two months from the 19th September to 24th November 2015. The research involved two months of experiments using thermo-gravimetric analyser (TGA) for kinetic analysis of pyrolysis of waste plastic in three different atmospheres; 100% of N2, 100% of CO2 and ratio of N2/CO2. In addition to this, the real-time analysis of the gaseous products released during thermal analysis was investigated. Initially, the proposed method to study the gases evaluation is using the TGA machine connected to the infra-red spectrometer (FTir).
  • Yeshui Zhang visited the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Sydney, Australia for 3 months from 1st March to 2nd May 2015. She worked on the preparation of a range of catalysts under the direction of Dr Jun Huang for the two-stage pyrolysis-catalysis of waste plastics and other polymers to produce hydrogen and carbon nanotubes. She was trained in the preparation and characterisation of a range of silica and alumina catalysts with different structures and with different metal promoters. 
  • Japhet Oladipo and Andrew Dyer (early career researchers) visited the University of Sydney during January and February 2016. Health and safety inductions and laboratory training were undertaken during the first week of arrival. Japhet produced a range of nickel based catalysts using a University of Sydney co-precipitation method using aluminium nitrate and sodium carbonate solutions which were used to produce the alumina support. Impregnation method was used to synthesise the nickel, copper and alumina together. Nickel chromium alumina catalyst with different ratios were also prepared using the co-precipitation and impregnation method. Andrew aimed to produce structurally perfect ZSM-5 by using a Sydney University hydrothermal method. Four batches of ZSM-5 were produced using this method for assessment back in the UK. ZSM-5 was also produced for work in the UK with 5 different Si/Al ratios from 38 through to 360.

If you require further information about this project, pleaes contact: Professor Paul Williams