The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the use of medical protective equipment, including face masks, to protect the individual from the virus. This work studies the feasibility of using these materials as fuel for thermochemical processes for the production of syngas. A preliminary physic-chemical characterization was made by means of moisture and ash determination, thermogravimetric analysis, X-ray fluorescence. Afterward, pyrolysis and gasification tests were executed in a laboratory-scale fluidized bed reactor with chirurgical and FFP2 masks investigating four temperature levels and three different operating conditions (fluidizing agents and dry/wet sample). A qualitative and quantitative analysis of condensable aromatic hydrocarbons in the produced gas, collected during the test campaign, was performed employing a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer. The experimental data from the tests were used to propose a hybrid approach to simulate the gasification process, based on experimental laws for the devolatilization step and a thermodynamic equilibrium approach for char gasification. The resulting data were compared with a thermodynamic equilibrium model, showing that the new approach captures non-equilibrium effects always present in real gasifiers operation.
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