Monomer recovery from nylon carpets via reactive extrusion

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Bryson, Latoya G.
Muzzy, John D.
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The catalytic depolymerization/pyrolysis of nylon 6 and 66 were investigated with the prospect of helping to curb the amount of carpet landfilled. Thermogravimetric analysis was used to determine which catalysts (and their nylon/catalyst ratio) were most suited for the depolymerization. By adding bases, the onset of degradation for some bases was 100 aC lower than that of the pure nylons. Potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide were found to be the most effective catalysts at a catalyst ratio of 100:1 of nylon 6 and nylon 66 to catalyst, respectively. After determining the most efficient catalyst, kinetic models/parameters from the TGA data were determined. These parameters were used in a reactive extrusion model for depolymerizing nylon 6 in carpet. Data from the model was then used to do cost analysis for the process. It was found that to get a Present Value Ratio greater than 1, the flow rate has to be greater than or equal to 500 lb/hr. At even higher flow rates up to the model¡¦s limit (1500 lb/hr), the Net Present Value shows that this process is economically viable. Extrusion of a 100:1 ratio of pure N6 and KOH was done in a 30 mm counter-rotating non-intermeshing twin screw extruder. The material collected from the vents of the extruder was tested with a gas chromatograph- mass spectrum (GC-MS) in tandem. There was only one significant peak from the GC and the primary molecular weight on the MS was 113, the molecular weight of caprolactam. This shows that the process could be profitable and require little purification if done industrially.
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