Polyethylene cracking on a spent FCC catalyst in a conical spouted bed

Gorka Elordi, Martin Olazar, Pedro Castaño, Maite Artetxe, Javier Bilbao

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The catalytic cracking of HDPE (high density polyethylene) at 500 °C using a spent FCC catalyst agglomerated with bentonite (50 wt %) has been studied in a conical spouted bed reactor. The reaction is carried out in continuous regime (1 g min -1 of HDPE is fed) with no bed defluidization problems. The results obtained, namely, total conversion, and high yields of gasoline (C 5-C 11 fraction) (50 wt %) and C 2-C 4 olefins (28 wt %), are explained by favorable reactor conditions and good catalyst properties. These results are compared with those for a catalyst prepared in the laboratory by agglomerating a commercial HY zeolite (SiO 2/Al 2O 3 = 5.2). The conical spouted bed is a suitable reactor for enhancing the physical steps of melting the polymer and coating the catalyst with the melted polymer. Furthermore, high heat and mass transfer rates promote devolatilization, and short residence times minimize secondary reactions from olefins by enhancing primary cracking products. The meso- and macroporous structure of the spent FCC catalyst matrix enhances the diffusion of long polymer chains, whereas the zeolite crystals have micropores that give a proper shape selectivity to form the lumps of gasoline and light olefins. Because of long use in reaction-regeneration cycles, the moderate acidity of the spent FCC catalyst minimizes the secondary reactions of hydrogen transfer, and so restricts the formation of aromatics and paraffins, as well as the reactions of overcracking and condensation and, therefore, the coke formation. The spent FCC catalyst exhibits a low deactivation rate and is regenerable by coke combustion with air at 550 °C. Consequently, the use of a catalyst with the sole cost of a simple agglomeration and the production of value added product streams make the process of polyolefin catalytic cracking a promising option for refinery integration. © 2012 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 31 2012
Externally publishedYes


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