Beneficial Reuse of PCBs

EPA Grant Number: SU836782
Title: Beneficial Reuse of PCBs
Investigators: Lu, Mingming
Institution: University of Cincinnati
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: August 1, 2016 through October 31, 2017
Project Amount: $14,985
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2016) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Chemical Safety


Study the effectiveness of catalytic de-coloration at low temperatures (<250°C) using a bi-metallic catalyst, then convert the biphenyl into other more useful and less toxic chemicals, such as cyclohexyl benzene.


The objective is to study the effectiveness of catalytic de-chlorination at low temperatures (less than 250°C) and convert PCBs into useful materials in an all in one process.


The team proposed a bi-metallic catalyst from the platinum family under hydrogen environment. The catalyst responsible for dechlorination is palladium on carbon and triethylamine (Pd/C and Et3N). Then the temperature will be increased to convert the biphenyl into other more useful and less toxic chemicals, such as cyclohexyl benzene. The catalyst responsible for biphenyl hydrogenation is platinum (Pt). Research will be conducted by varying controllable operating parameters, such as temperatures, hydrogen flow rates and reaction times. By keeping the temperatures low (less than 250°C), the contamination from heavy metal evaporation can be avoided. The research has been clearly divided into manageable tasks and split among the teams. The progress will be closely monitored and research data will be preserved and shared in a timely manner.

Expected Results:

The immediate output expected is an environmentally friendly technology to convert highly toxic PCBs into useful materials. It is not only a significant improvement in technology, but will also offer a low cost solution to waste PCB products. The success of this project will provide a better use of the PCBs as chemicals or liquid fuels.

Supplemental Keywords:

PCBs, de-chlorination and conversion, low temperatures

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2017 Progress Report
  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Beneficial reuse of PCBs (poly-chlorinated biphenyls) as new materials through a low cost process  | 2018 Progress Report  | 2019 Progress Report