Co-Pyrolysis of Fruit Waste and High Density Polyethylene: Effect of Composition, Temperature and CO2 Environment on Pyrolysis Products

  • Abdullah Nooh

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Waste recycling is gaining prominence and acceptance compared to landfilling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Municipal solid waste (MSW), the largest source of solid waste, is primarily composed of food waste, plastics packaging and papers. Thermochemical recycling technique, such as pyrolysis, is considered as a promising alternative for producing value-added products. Pyrolysis is a process occurring in inert environments at moderate temperatures controlled by parameters such as the reaction temperature, heating rate and residence time to produce bio-oil and biochar. It is also known for its high tolerance for mixed waste stream. In this thesis, fruit waste (FW) consisted of bananas, apples, oranges and cucumbers peels and commercial high density polyethylene (HDPE) as co-pyrolysis feedstock were investigated. Co-pyrolysis experiments were performed in a tubular furnace reactor to investigate the effect of polymer composition, temperature and CO2 atmosphere. HDPE composition was varied between 33–67% to investigate the effect of feedstock composition at 500 ˚C. A composition was fixed and then effect of temperature was assessed in the range 500–700 ˚C. Finally, in CO2 atmosphere, co-pyrolysis experiments were performed with 50% HDPE at 600 ˚C. The collected bio-oil and biochar were thoroughly characterized via different analytical techniques. The effect of different process parameters on bio-oil was studied by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS), proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) and Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectroscopy (FT-ICR MS). Biochar samples are analyzed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), CHNS elemental analysis and Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR). Detailed product composition revealed that formation of hydrocarbons was promoted with increasing HDPE, while significant deoxygenation was observed with increased temperature. In addition, heavier molecules in the bio-oil were studied via FT-ICR MS. HDPE loading and CO2 atmosphere stabilized the biochar by reducing the oxygen content. The results demonstrated the potential use of HDPE as a co-feed with FW in a pyrolysis system to produce valuable products.
Date of AwardJun 2023
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorMani Sarathy (Supervisor)


  • Waste Management
  • Pyrolysis
  • Waste-to-Energy
  • Co-pyrolysis
  • Municipal Solid Waste
  • MSW Management

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