Selective Hydrogenolysis of Pre-Consumer Polyolefins to Premium Synthetic Lubricants

Project: Research project

Project Details


The growing concern for the amount of waste plastics entering the environment has spurred the need to develop new technologies for recycling plastics or upcycling them by converting them into new higher value products. Argonne National Laboratory in partnership with Northwestern University and Ames Laboratory is developing a low-temperature catalytic upcycling process for converting post-consumer plastic wastes made of polyethylene or polypropylene polymers to premium synthetic lubricants. Key to our process technology is our hydrogenolysis catalyst technology that converts these polymers to the desired lubricant product with high selective and near-quantitative yields and with negligible formation of light gases. APRA-E funding will enable us to collect additional data necessary to design and evaluate the economic viability of a processing scheme capable of converting 250 tons/day of MRF-processed polyolefin waste to premium synthetic lubricants product, which we estimate will have a much lower product cost compared to that of the refinery-based counterpart. Specifically, we will conduct the following Tasks: (1) optimize process reaction conditions including catalyst formulation, catalyst loading, H2 pressure, reaction temperature, feedstock composition, reactor design, and residence time to generate the data necessary to develop a process design; (2) evaluate catalyst lifetime and recyclability and develop a regeneration process to extend catalyst lifetime in laboratory scale experiments using pre- or post-consumer PO films and bottles (HDPE, LDPE, LLDPE, iPP) as feedstocks; (3) develop a process flow scheme for a modular process capable of processing 250 tons mixed plastic waste/day of MRF-processed plastic wastes that can be deployed at the MRF site; and (4) Assess the economic viability of the processes through techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle analysis (LCA).
Effective start/end date12/15/2012/14/21


  • Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (DE-AR0001361)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.