Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
This master thesis focuses on pyrolysis of electronic waste (e-waste) for energy production and material recovery. Firstly, in the theoretical section a description of electronic waste their composition and the current waste management techniques is presented in order to get insights about their properties. As more and more sustainable solutions are required for waste handling, the advantages and disadvantages of the current treatment methods are analyzed in order to compare them with the innovative technique of waste pyrolysis. The substrate used for pyrolysis in terms of this master thesis was the printed circuit boards’ fraction (PCBs) and thus a particular description of this fraction is included. Furthermore, the pyrolysis as a thermal treatment method is fully described for getting an overview of the entire process.
The next section of the current master thesis includes a description of the instrumentation used for conducting the experimental part, the thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and the Analytical Pyrolysis (PY-GC-MS).
The experimental part included as well the samples preparation in order to obtain a homogeneous mixture since various substances are used for PCBs manufacturing. Furthermore, samples were sent to an external company for elemental, proximate and ultimate analysis. After the samples preparation, the TGA and GC-MS were both used as analytical tools in order to identify the main substances produced, the reactions kinetics taking place, and various others important parameters. Furthermore, the results derived from the experimental were further analyzed using various calculations tools such as Microsoft Office Excel and Matlab as well as the software of GC-MS. The results section also includes a deep discussion of the results since the pyrolysis of electronic waste is still under research an extensive analysis is necessary.
Summarizing, the results illustrates all the data gathered from the composition analysis, the TGA curves and a qualitative and quantitative analysis. The main product of pyrolysis of printed circuit boards is phenol and hydrocarbons with high heating value, while the increased ash content is promising for the recovery of metals.
Finally, the report includes several recommendations for the future work to be done and the basic directions for the research of pyrolysis process for materials and energy recovery should get.