Used baby diaper consists of a combination of decomposable cellulose, non-biodegradable plastic materials (e.g. polyolefins) and super-absorbent polymer materials, thus making it difficult to be sorted and separated for recycling. Microwave pyrolysis was examined for its potential as an approach to transform used baby diapers into value-added products. Influence of the key operating parameters comprising process temperature and microwave power were investigated. The pyrolysis showed a rapid heating process (up to 43 °C/min of heating rate) and quick reaction time (20-40 min) in valorizing the used diapers to generate pyrolysis products comprising up to 43 wt% production of liquid oil, 29 wt% gases and 28 wt% char product. Microwave power and operating temperature were observed to have impacts on the heating rate, process time, production and characteristics of the liquid oil and solid char. The liquid oil contained alkanes, alkenes and esters that can potentially be used as chemical additives, cosmetic products and fuel. The solid char contained high carbon, low nitrogen and free of sulphur, thus showing potential for use as adsorbents and soil additives. These observations demonstrate that microwave pyrolysis has great prospect in transforming used baby diaper into liquid oil and char products that can be utilised in several applications.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.