In the present work, simultaneous thermogravimetric (TG) and differential scanning calorimetric (DSC) analyses were used to investigate the effect of the acidity of HZSM-5 zeolites on the catalytic degradation of high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The acidity of the zeolite was modified by ion exchange with sodium. The results obtained using HZSM-5 zeolites of varying acid strengths show the effect of increasing the acidity on the reduction of the degradation temperature. The addition of sodium to HZSM-5, by ion exchange, results in a decrease of the acid strength of the catalyst and an increase in the observed degradation temperature from 402 to 465 °C. The simultaneous use of the signals from the TG and DSC allowed the development of a kinetic model that is able to accurately describe all the runs performed, both the thermal and the catalytic degradation of the polymer. The kinetic parameters obtained clearly revealed the reduction in the activation energy due to the presence of the catalyst and its relation to the overall acidity of the samples. The gases evolved from the pyrolysis of polyethylene were also analysed using gas chromatography, and it was also found that volatile product selectivity changes with the catalyst acidity. The fact that the overall activity for the catalytic cracking of HDPE on these zeolites varies with internal acid strength of the zeolite indicates that the inner surface of these zeolites participates in this reaction despite the fact that the reactant molecules are extremely large.
- Acid catalysis
- Catalytic degradation
- Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC)
- High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
- Kinetic modelling
- Thermogravimetry (TG)
- ZSM-5 zeolite