Novel Depolymerization Process

supercritical water partial oxidation systemOur research group has developed a novel depolymerization process based on supercritical water partial oxidation (SCWPO). Two major patents have been issued.

  • U.S. Patent 5,386,055
  • U.S. Patent 5,516,952

    This process is unique in the sense that monomer quality products are obtained with a high selectivity and that the process is versatile enough to handle polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, poly(vinyl chloride), and spent tire rubber. Recent results also show that the products from depolymerization can be obtained as low molecular weight polymeric wax, whose molecular weight distribution can be controlled by this process. A high-pressure reactor system has been designed and setup for this process, a Hastelloy C-276 reactor is being used for experimentation.

    SCWPO Hastelloy-C276 reactorThe first part of the depolymerization project was funded by BFGoodrich and was licensed to the company by the University of Akron. A new project was initiated under state funding from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) in 1999.

    Another innovative project dealing with devulcanization of cured rubber based on destructive SCF extraction process is funded by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. This process adopts a different approach from its competitors, viz., recycling the vulcanized rubber into revulcanizable resin-grade rubber. For licensing, please contact Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

    U.S. Patent 6,992,116

    The very same experimental system can be used for complete destruction of toxic or hazardous materials, in supercritical water medium. For such applications, whose required retention time is normally short, this 1-liter reactor is large enough to provide pilot-scale data. For more information, please contact us.