Production of hydrogen and light hydrocarbons as a potential gaseous fuel from microwave-heated pyrolysis of waste automotive engine oil

Su Shiung Lam, Alan D. Russell, Chern Leing Lee, Su Ki Lam, Howard A. Chase

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80 Citations (Scopus)


Waste automotive engine oil was pyrolyzed in a continuous stirred bed reactor using microwave energy as the heat source; the yield and characteristics of the incondensable gaseous products are discussed. The recovered gases (41 wt% yield) were found to contain substantial concentrations of light aliphatic hydrocarbons (up to 86 vol.%) that could potentially be used as a chemical feedstock or a fuel source to power the process, or to be reformed to produce hydrogen for use as a second-generation fuel. Examination of the composition of the gases also showed the formation of H 2 (up to 19 vol.%) and CO that could also be used as a valuable syngas (with a H 2 + CO content of up to 35 vol.%). The high yield of gaseous hydrocarbons can be attributed to the unique heating mode and chemical environment present during microwave-heated pyrolysis. The use of a microwave-heated bed of particulate-carbon showed advantages in transforming waste oil into valuable gases. Hence an environmentally unfriendly waste material can be transformed into a useful resource and serves as an alternative source of hydrogen or hydrocarbon energy. The recovery of valuable gases shows advantage over traditional destructive approaches and suggests excellent potential for recycling problematic waste oil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5011-5021
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Hydrogen
  • Microwave
  • Microwave pyrolysis
  • Pyrolysis
  • Syngas
  • Waste oil

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