Among the different thermo-chemical recycling routes for plastic waste valorization, gasification is one of the most promising, converting plastic waste into syngas (H2+CO) and energy in the presence of an oxygen-rich gas. Plastic waste gasification is associated with many different complexities due to the multi-scale nature of the process, the feedstock complexity (mixed polyolefins with different contaminations), intricate reaction mechanisms, plastic properties (melting behavior and molecular weight distribution), and complex transport phenomena in a multi-phase flow system. Hence, creating a reliable model calls for an extensive understanding of the phenomena at all scales, and more advanced modeling approaches than those applied today are required. Indeed, modeling of plastic waste gasification (PWG) is still in its infancy today. Our review paper shows that the thermophysical properties are rarely properly defined. Challenges in this regard together with possible methodologies to decently define these properties have been elaborated. The complexities regarding the kinetic modeling of gasification are numerous, compared to, e.g., plastic waste pyrolysis, or coal and biomass gasification, which are elaborated in this work along with the possible solutions to overcome them. Moreover, transport limitations and phase transformations, which affect the apparent kinetics of the process, are not usually considered, while it is demonstrated in this review that they are crucial in the robust prediction of the outcome. Hence, possible approaches in implementing available models to consider these limitations are suggested. Finally, the reactor-scale phenomena of PWG, which are more intricate than the similar processes—due to the presence of molten plastic—are usually simplified to the gas-solid systems, which can result in unreliable modeling frameworks. In this regard, an opportunity lies in the increased computational power that helps improve the model’s precision and allows us to include those complexities within the multi-scale PWG modeling. Using the more accurate modeling methodologies in combination with multi-scale modeling approaches will, in a decade, allow us to perform a rigorous optimization of the PWG process, improve existing and develop new gasifiers, and avoid fouling issues caused by tar.
The full article can be found at https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/15/12/4215.