This work describes the key features involved in the design and operation of a pilot scale distillation column for the recovery of value-added products from tire pyrolysis oil (TPO), as part of the BLACKCYCLE project. The distillation unit was designed using engineering heuristic rules, simulated distillation (SimDist) data and Aspen Hysys ® modeling. The distillation plant consists of a packed column with a nominal throughput of 20 kg/h, and is classified at the fifth technology readiness level (TRL-5). The commissioning and results of long-term experimental campaigns for validation purposes are also presented. In this way, important information is gathered for the design of larger plants. The distillation unit was tested and validated using TPO produced from a pilot scale continuous single-auger pyrolysis plant. A first distillation was performed yielding a heavy fraction (HF-1) with properties suitable for carbon black production, while the light fraction (LF-1) includes the presence of value-added chemicals such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) and limonene. The LF-1 was also used for a second distillation, producing a stream high in limonene at the bottom (HF-2), and another one high in BTEX compounds at the top (LF-2), which are valuable raw materials for polymer production and petrochemicals, respectively. The key results obtained here are expected to provide an outstanding impetus for the circular economy of complex streams such as end-of-life tires (ELTs) by combining pyrolysis and distillation technologies.
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