Catalytic supercritical water gasification of plastics with supported RuO2: a potential solution to hydrocarbons-water pollution problem

Jude A. Onwudili*, Paul T. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Here we report on a potential catalytic process for efficient clean-up of plastic pollution in waters, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (CPGP). Detailed catalytic mechanisms of RuO2 during supercritical water gasification of common polyolefin plastics including low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PP), have been investigated in a batch reactor at 450 °C, 60 min. All four plastics gave very high carbon gasification efficiencies (CGE) and hydrogen gasification efficiencies (HGE). Methane was the highest gas component, with a yield of up to 37 mol kg−1LDPE using the 20 wt% RuO2 catalyst. Evaluation of the gas yields, CGE and HGE revealed that the conversion of PS involved thermal degradation, steam reforming and methanation; whereas hydrogenolysis was a possible additional mechanism during the conversion of aliphatic plastics. The process has the benefits of producing a clean-pressurized methane-rich fuel gas as well as cleaning up hydrocarbons-polluted waters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-149
Number of pages10
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
Early online date2 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • hydrogenolysis
  • methane
  • plastics pollution
  • polyolefins
  • reaction mechanisms
  • Ruthenium catalysis
  • supercritical water gasification

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