Waste furniture boards (WFBs) contain hazardous formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds when left unmanaged or improperly disposed through landfilling and open burning. In this study, pyrolysis was examined as a disposal and recovery approach to convert three types of WFBs (i.e., particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard) into value-added chemicals using thermogravimetric analysis coupled with Fourier-transform infrared spectrometry (TG-FTIR) and pyrolysis coupled with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS). TG-FTIR analysis shows that pyrolysis performed at an optimum temperature of 250-550 °C produced volatile products mainly consisting of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and light hydrocarbons, such as methane. Py-GC/MS shows that pyrolysis at different final temperatures and heating rates recovered mainly phenols (25.9-54.7%) for potential use as additives in gasoline, colorants, and food. The calorific value of WFBs ranged from 16 to 18 MJ/kg but the WFBs showed high H/C (1.7-1.8) and O/C (0.8-1.0) ratios that provide low chemical energy during combustion. This result indicates that WFBs are not recommended to be burned directly as fuel, however, they can be pyrolyzed and converted into solid pyrolytic products such as biochar with improved properties for fuel application. Hazardous components, such as cyclopropylmethanol, were removed and converted into value-added compounds, such as 1,4:3,6-dianhydro-d-glucopyranose, for use in pharmaceuticals. These results show that the pyrolysis of WFBs at high temperature and low heating rate is a promising feature to produce value-added chemicals and reduce the formation of harmful chemical species. Thus, the release of hazardous formaldehyde and greenhouse gases into the environment is redirected.
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