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Article

Assessing the Conversion of Various Nylon Polymers in the Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Macroalgae

1
Department of Production Engineering, Chaiyaphum Rajabhat University, Chaiyaphum 36000, Thailand
2
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
3
Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK
4
College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QD, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Teresa A. P. Rocha-Santos and Joana C. Prata
Received: 17 March 2021 / Revised: 10 April 2021 / Accepted: 13 April 2021 / Published: 15 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastic Contamination: Challenges and Solutions)
Marine macroalgae offers a promising third generation feedstock for the production of fuels and chemicals, avoiding competition with conventional agriculture and potentially helping to improve eutrophication in seas and oceans. However, an increasing amount of plastic is distributed into the oceans, and as such contaminating macroalgal beds. One of the major plastic contaminants is nylon 6 derived from discarded fishing gear, though an increasing amount of alternative nylon polymers, derived from fabrics, are also observed. This study aimed to assess the effect of these nylon contaminants on the hydrothermal liquefaction of Fucus serratus. The hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of macroalgae was undertaken at 350 °C for 10 min, with a range of nylon polymers (nylon 6, nylon 6/6, nylon 12 and nylon 6/12), in the blend of 5, 20 and 50 wt.% nylon to biomass; 17 wt.% biocrude was achieved from a 50% blend of nylon 6 with F. serratus. In addition, nylon 6 completely broke down in the system producing the monomer caprolactam. The suitability of converting fishing gear was further demonstrated by conversion of actual fishing line (nylon 6) with the macroalgae, producing an array of products. The alternative nylon polymer blends were less reactive, with only 54% of the nylon 6/6 breaking down under the HTL conditions, forming cyclopentanone which distributed into the biocrude phase. Nylon 6/12 and nylon 12 were even less reactive, and only traces of the monomer cyclododecanone were observed in the biocrude phase. This study demonstrates that while nylon 6 derived from fishing gear can be effectively integrated into a macroalgal biorefinery, alternative nylon polymers from other sectors are too stable to be converted under these conditions and present a real challenge to a macroalgal biorefinery. View Full-Text
Keywords: plastic; HTL; macroalgae; seaweed; nylon; biofuel plastic; HTL; macroalgae; seaweed; nylon; biofuel
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hongthong, S.; Leese, H.S.; Allen, M.J.; Chuck, C.J. Assessing the Conversion of Various Nylon Polymers in the Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Macroalgae. Environments 2021, 8, 34. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8040034

AMA Style

Hongthong S, Leese HS, Allen MJ, Chuck CJ. Assessing the Conversion of Various Nylon Polymers in the Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Macroalgae. Environments. 2021; 8(4):34. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8040034

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hongthong, Sukanya, Hannah S. Leese, Michael J. Allen, and Christopher J. Chuck 2021. "Assessing the Conversion of Various Nylon Polymers in the Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Macroalgae" Environments 8, no. 4: 34. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8040034

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