Production of value-added aromatics from wasted COVID-19 mask via catalytic pyrolysis

Seul Bee LEE, Jechan LEE, Yiu Fai TSANG, Young-Min KIM, Jungho JAE, Sang-Chul JUNG, Young-Kwon PARK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, wasted mask is chosen as a pyrolysis feedstock whose generation has incredibly increased these days due to COVID-19. We suggest a way to produce value-added chemicals (e.g., aromatic compounds) from the mask with high amounts through catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP). To this end, the effects of zeolite catalyst properties on the upgradation efficiency of pyrolytic products produced from pyrolysis of wasted mask were investigated. The compositions and yields of pyrolytic gases and oils were characterized as functions of pyrolysis temperature and the type of zeolite catalyst (HBeta, HY, and HZSM-5), including the mesoporous catalyst of Al-MCM-41. The mask was pyrolyzed in a fixed bed reactor, and the pyrolysis gases evolved in the reactor was routed to a secondary reactor inside which the zeolite catalyst was loaded. It was chosen 550 °C as the CFP temperature to compare the catalyst performance for the production of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) because this temperature gave the highest oil yield (80.7 wt.%) during the non-catalytic pyrolysis process. The large pore zeolite group of HBeta and HY led to 134 % and 67 % higher BTEX concentrations than HZSM-5, respectively, likely because they had larger pores, higher surface areas, and higher acid site density than the HZSM-5. This is the first report of the effect of zeolite characteristics on BTEX production via CFP. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117060
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Early online date01 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2021


Lee, S. B., Lee, J., Tsang, Y. F., Kim, Y.-M., Jae, J., Jung, S.-C., & Park, Y.-K. (2021). Production of value-added aromatics from wasted COVID-19 mask via catalytic pyrolysis. Environmental Pollution, 283. Retrieved from


  • Plastic
  • COVID-19
  • Thermochemical process
  • Waste treatment
  • Aromatization


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