Photocatalytic degradation of low density polyethylene films using UV-C range of radiation

R. Ederada, R. Shende, V. Amar, A. Shende
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology,
United States

Keywords: low density polyethylene films, TiO2, photodegradation


Plastic waste is one of the major contributor of environmental pollution. With the increasing use of plastic in daily life, there is an urgent need to develop a method to degrade plastic waste to value added or eco-friendly products. Fungi or bacteria mediated bio-degradation of the "as-is" plastic is slow and inefficient. Pre-treatment methods such as thermal or photocatalytic is suggested to decrease hydrophobicity and the chain length of the plastic polymer which aids in bio-degradation. There are several reports on using TiO2 photocatalyst to photodegrade low density polyethylene (LDPE) films. The TiO2 nanoparticles absorb in the UV-range of wavelength. Most of these studies were performed with radiation from the solar spectrum namely the UV-A and UV-B. Here we report photodegradtion of the LDPE-TiO2 composite films in the presence of UV-C radiation. LDPE-TiO2 films with varying concentration of TiO2 were prepared and exposed to UV-C radiation. Samples were removed at specified time intervals. The weight and thickeness of the films were recorded. FTIR analysis was performed to calculate the carbonyl index while SEM analysis revealed changes in the surface morphology. The results from these experiments primarily show that compared with UV-A/UV-B radiation, UV-C degraded plastic more efficiently and in a shorter time.