Exploring the technical feasibility of the combustion of dissolved polystyrene waste in biodiesel

Kristina Celeste Fong


Polystyrene is one of the most commonly used plastics due to its versatility in various industries and inexpensive cost per unit weight. However, its inability to biodegrade is cause for controversy as it commonly finds itself in the form of environmentally hazardous litter. As this controversial polymer has prompted discussions on the possible routes of non-toxic disposal, it has been found that polystyrene readily dissolves in biodiesel, allowing the disposed waste to act as a beneficial fuel additive, increasing energy value and decreasing emissions. The Sustainable Energy Technologies Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory has been tasked with examining the feasibility of combusting polystyrene-biodiesel blends in residential boilers and the factors that must be taken into account for this fuel to be considered a viable energy source. After several preliminary tests, it was determined that the long polymer chains in polystyrene significantly lower the biofuel’s ability to atomize well as it passes through a nozzle, unless a change in an experimental factor occurred such as pressure increase, lower blend concentration, or alteration of the fluid properties. Further steps in exploring these solutions that will allow higher concentrations of polystyrene-biodiesel blends to be used as a valuable alternative to biodiesel will continue into the future. It might also be practical to explore alternative combustion options that include the use of diesel engines or air atomized commercial boilers.

Keywords: Combustion, Residential boiler and burners, Polystyrene-Biodiesel blends


Keywords: Combustion; Residential boiler and burners; Polystyrene; Biodiesel

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