Catalytic pyrolysis of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) was investigated using various fly ash-derived silica–alumina catalysts (FSAs). FSAs were prepared by a simple activation method that basically includes NaOH treatment of fly ash by a fusion method, followed by an aging process. A series of LDPE pyrolysis experiments was conducted and the catalytic performance of FSAs was assessed in terms of the degradation temperature and the simulated boiling point distribution of the liquid products. The effects of synthesis conditions such as NaOH/fly ash weight ratio and aging time were examined by X-ray diffractometer (XRD), Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface area analyzer, and scanning electron microscope to clarify the controlling factors affecting the catalytic activity. To obtain catalyst with high activity, it is necessary to produce sufficient silica and alumina species that can be easily co-precipitated into solid acid catalyst by destruction of the fly ash structure and to optimize the activation time for catalyst synthesis to prevent the transformation into inactive phases. The catalytic performance of FSA obtained from optimal conditions was equivalent to that of commercial catalysts, demonstrating the effectiveness of the catalyst.
Key words: Fly ash-derived silica–alumina catalyst - NaOH fusion - Catalytic pyrolysis - Low-density polyethylene