Prospects of using chars derived from mixed post waste plastic pyrolysis in civil engineering applications

Kande Kapuge Wijesekara, Paul Sargent, Chris Ennis, David Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pyrolysis provides a sustainable solution for managing post-consumer mixed plastic waste (PC-MPW) streams by producing valuable mixtures of liquids and gases, which have potential for use as fuels. Compared with landfilling,
gasification and incineration processes, pyrolysis has the smallest environmental footprint. Waxes produced as an intermediate product of controlled pyrolysis conditions have been used as viscosity-reducing
additives in modified asphalts, which reduce energy requirements for heating and mixing on site. The chars produced from PC-MPW pyrolysis have been used to produce activated carbon (adsorbents), additives in epoxy
resins and fuel briquettes. These chars have proven to increase the conductivity, thermal stability and nonflammability of epoxy resin composites. Furthermore, the chars also have potential as additives in concretes to reduce the carbon footprint associated with Portland cement production. Albeit PC-MPW-chars have not been used in civil engineering applications to date, chars derived from other organic sources (e.g. wood) have been successfully used in cement admixtures and demonstrated their atmospheric carbon sequestration and strength gaining capabilities. The material properties of the chars that are responsible for producing such promising performances include high porosity (which enables water absorption and retention capacities), high surface area and reactivity (particularly for chars produced at higher pyrolysis temperatures) for promoting the formation of cementitious gels. Furthermore, pulverised chars act as a “micro-filler” within cementitious materials, whereby they fill pore spaces and increase material strength and stiffness. This study highlights the promise of PC-MPW chars as a low carbon additive for use in cement-based construction materials.
Original languageEnglish
Article number128212
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue number128212
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2021


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