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Ultrafast Homogeneous Glycolysis of Waste Polyethylene Terephthalate via a Dissolution-Degradation Strategy

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journal contribution
posted on 05.11.2018, 00:00 by Bo Liu, Xingmei Lu, Zhaoyang Ju, Peng Sun, Jiayu Xin, Xiaoqian Yao, Qing Zhou, Suojiang Zhang
Recycling of discarded polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is an important issue for both environmental protection and resource conservation purposes. In this work, a dissolution-degradation strategy has been developed for recycling PET by adding solvents such as aniline, nitrobenzene, 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone (NMP), or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) into the traditional PET glycolysis system. The results show that the conversion of PET reaches 100% and the yield of monomer bis­(hydroxyalkyl) terephthalate (BHET) reaches 82% during 1 min with zinc acetate as catalyst in DMSO at 463 K. Importantly, this strategy can be applied to a variety of catalysts. The simulation and in situ IR results indicate that the π–π interaction between PET and aromatic solvents plays a key role in PET dissolution, which leads to fast degradation. This promising dissolution-degradation strategy can improve the glycolysis efficiency of PET dramatically and may be applied to the degradation process of other polyesters.