In modern society, plastic waste has become a serious environmental issue. The inability of most hydrocarbon based plastics to naturally decompose quickly causes concern. The material piles up in landfills, waterways, and along the side of the road. One way to combat this issue is the repurposing of the material. Plastic can be converted back into oil (called pyrolysis) and refined to produce fuels. To attempt this, a custom-built steel reactor is to be filled with waste plastic, and will be heated to the plastic’s boiling point in an inert (N2) environment. The resulting vapor will be recondensed in a specially designed heat exchanger, resulting in oil, wax, and gaseous byproducts. The oil and waxes are collected in one container, and the gases are collected in a separate container. The system will require the use of thermocouples and a feedback loop to properly control temperature. The results are expected to show a correlation between plastic type and resulting byproduct composition with Grade 1 plastics producing the most gas. In addition, faster heating rates, larger plastic particle size, and higher temperatures should increase gaseous products. This may aid in the creation of commercial/industrial sized pyrolysis systems.

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