2.2. Pilot Scale Cracking Set-Up Description

Continuous thermal cracking of polymers was carried out for about 8 h in a pilot-scale set-up, presented in Figure 1, based on the modified unit invented by Podeszfa et al. [39]. Plastic raw material was fed to the extruder (1) where it was melted and heated up to 330 °C. Then, the melt was continuously introduced to a 50 dm3 tank reactor with stirrer (2) where cracking took place. The reactor was heated by controlled electrical heaters. Vapours of products were continuously carried over through the air cooler (4) to the separation column (7). The heavy fraction was collected from the bottom of the column in the heavy fraction receiver (9). The light fraction was cooled in the cold water condenser (8) and collected in the light fraction receiver (10). Both fractions were mixed together in a weighted product barrel (11). The process temperature was dependant on polymer type and chosen to maintain a stable production rate of 2 kg/h of the product. Residue from the cracking process was drained from the reactor in portions through a special draining system to the residue receiver (6). Gaseous products were transferred out of the unit through dedicated lines (12). The quantity of gaseous product and residue was calculated as the difference between the input weight and product weight. The whole system was purged with nitrogen from a nitrogen cylinder (5) before the process and before every drain of the residue. The cracking reactor was not purged with nitrogen during the process.

Thermal cracking unit: (1) extruder, (2) thermal cracking reactor, (3) stirrer, (4) air cooler, (5) nitrogen container, (6) residue tank, (7) separation column, (8) water cooler, (9) heavy fraction receiver, (10) light fraction receiver, (11) product collection, (12) off-gas.

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