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Journal Articles Journal of Environmental Management Year : 2021

Reviewing the thermo-chemical recycling of waste polyurethane foam


The worldwide production of polymeric foam materials is growing due to their advantageous properties of light weight, high thermal insulation, good strength, resistance and rigidity. Society creates ever increasing amounts of poly-urethane (PU) waste. A major part of this waste can be recycled or recovered in order to be put into further use. The PU industry is committed to assist and play its part in the process. The recycling and recovery of PU foam cover a range of mechanical, physical, chemical and thermo-chemical processes. In addition to the well- documented mechanical and chemical processing options, thermo-chemical treatments are important either as ultimate disposal (incineration) or towards feedstock recovery, leading to different products according to the thermal conditions of the treatment. The review focuses on these thermo-chemical and thermal processes. As far as pyrolysis is concerned, TDI and mostly polyol can be recovered. The highest recovery yields of TDI and polyols occur at low temperatures (150–200 ◦C). It is however clear from literature that pure feedstock will not be produced, and that a further upgrading of the condensate will be needed, together with a thermal or alternative treatment of the non-condensables. Gasification towards syngas has been studied on a larger and industrial scale. Its application would need the location of the PU treatment plant close to a chemical plant, if the syngas is to be valorized or considered in conjunction with a gas-fired CHP plant. Incineration has been studied mostly in a co- firing scheme. Potentially toxic emissions from PU combustion can be catered for by the common flue gas cleaning behind the incineration itself, making this solution less evident as a stand-alone option: the combination with other wastes (such as municipal solid waste) in MSWI′s seems the indicated route to go.
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Dates and versions

hal-03030784 , version 1 (30-11-2020)



Yimin Deng, Raf Dewil, Lise Appels, Renaud Ansart, Jan Baeyens, et al.. Reviewing the thermo-chemical recycling of waste polyurethane foam. Journal of Environmental Management, 2021, 278, Part 1 (111527), pp.0. ⟨10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111527⟩. ⟨hal-03030784⟩
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