RSC Adv. 2023 Sep 11;13(39):27212-27224. doi: 10.1039/d3ra04986h. eCollection 2023 Sep 8.
Hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) is emerging as an effective technology to convert PVC into highly valuable materials via the removal of chlorine. This means that an in-depth understanding of HTC requires the hydrochar structure, thermal degradation behavior, and relationship between structure and thermal reactivity to be understood. In this work, two typical PVC waste materials were selected for HTC experiments at different temperatures. The structure of the hydrochar was characterized in detail by compositional analysis, FTIR spectroscopy, and 13C NMR analysis. Furthermore, the thermal degradation behavior of the hydrochar was analyzed. The changes after thermal degradation were used to establish a correlation with pyrolysis reactivity. The results showed that the C content and chemical structure of the hydrochar approached that of bituminous coal with increasing HTC temperature. Compared with the untreated PVC feedstock, the hydrochar exhibited higher levels of oxygen-containing functional groups on its surface, and its carbon skeleton structure changed from polymeric straight chains to short-chain paraffins, cycloalkanes, and aromatics. A negative correlation was observed between the CPI value of the hydrochar derived from SPVC and the HTC temperature. The structural evolution path of the hydrochar was altered by additives, which improved its thermal reactivity. These findings are expected to play a significant role in bridging the gap from the creation of a theoretical potential energy source to the development of a sustainable alternative renewable fuel.