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Title: Direct one-step controlled partial depolymerization and upcycling of poly(ethylene terephthalate) into hyperbranched oligomeric ionogel
Authors: Guo, Ziyan
Lim, Jacob Song Kiat
Ng, Joseph Kok Wei
Yan, Weili
Gupta, Nupur
Hu, Matthew Xiao
Keywords: Engineering::Materials::Ecomaterials
Science::Chemistry::Organic chemistry::Polymers
Issue Date: 2023
Source: Guo, Z., Lim, J. S. K., Ng, J. K. W., Yan, W., Gupta, N. & Hu, M. X. (2023). Direct one-step controlled partial depolymerization and upcycling of poly(ethylene terephthalate) into hyperbranched oligomeric ionogel. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 11(4), 1394-1404.
Journal: ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 
Abstract: Chemical recycling of poly (ethylene terephthalate) (PET) by depolymerization into monomers to recreate virgin-grade plastics is desirable; however, the energy inefficient separation and purification steps needed to obtain high-purity monomers result in poor overall economic feasibility at present. Herein, we present a one-step integrated process for partial depolymerization and upcycling of PET oligomers directly in to high-value product without any need for solvent recovery and purification. The key strategy for our approach is using multifunctional cleaving agents such as glycerol in the presence of ionic liquid as a catalyst for controlled partial depolymerization of PET via transesterification using N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) as solvent. The obtained depolymerized, oligomeric PET (DOPET) recyclate together with NMP and IL is a gel-like, ionic-conductive material, also termed as an “ionogel”, that has the potential to be used in energy storage applications or as mechanically robust electrical conductors. This is a one-step process requiring no extensive separation and purification of PET oligomers or distillation of solvent for recovery which further simplifies the recycling process while simultaneously increasing the value of the waste product. We have further investigated the effects of the choice and amount of cleaving agent on the molecular weight and branching of the DOPET oligomers and hence the properties of the upcycled end products. Moreover, we have also shown the versatility of the abovementioned process for controlled depolymerization of other condensation polymers such as polyamides, polyurethane, and even mixed polymer products to obtain high value functional materials.
ISSN: 2168-0485
DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.2c05911
Schools: School of Materials Science and Engineering 
Interdisciplinary Graduate School (IGS) 
Research Centres: Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute 
Environmental Chemistry and Materials Centre
Rights: This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, copyright © 2023 American Chemical Society, after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:IGS Journal Articles
MSE Journal Articles
NEWRI Journal Articles

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