Series in which Jim Al-Khalili traces the story of how the elements, the building blocks that make up our entire world, were discovered and mapped.

Chemistry: A Volatile History - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 60 minutes

Premier: 2010-01-21

Chemistry: A Volatile History - Pyrolysis - Netflix

Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures in an inert atmosphere. It involves the change of chemical composition and is irreversible. The word is coined from the Greek-derived elements pyro “fire” and lysis “separating”. Pyrolysis is most commonly applied to the treatment of organic materials. It is one of the processes involved in charring wood, starting at 200–300 °C (390–570 °F). In general, pyrolysis of organic substances produces volatile products and leaves a solid residue enriched in carbon, char. Extreme pyrolysis, which leaves mostly carbon as the residue, is called carbonization. The process is used heavily in the chemical industry, for example, to produce ethylene, many forms of carbon, and other chemicals from petroleum, coal, and even wood, to produce coke from coal. Aspirational applications of pyrolysis would convert biomass into syngas and biochar, waste plastics back into usable oil, or waste into safely disposable substances.

Chemistry: A Volatile History - Recycling - Netflix

Pyrolysis can also be used to treat plastic waste. The main advantage is the reduction in volume of the waste. In principle, pyrolysis will regenerate the monomers (precursors) to the polymers that are treated, but in practice the process is neither a clean nor an economically competitive source of monomers. In tire recycling, tire pyrolysis is well developed technology. Other products from car tire pyrolysis include steel wires, carbon black and bitumen. The area faces legislative, economic, and marketing obstacles. Oil derived from tire rubber pyrolysis contains high sulfur content, which gives it high potential as a pollutant and should be desulfurized.

Chemistry: A Volatile History - References - Netflix