Fully lignocellulose-based PET analogues for the circular economy

Nat Commun. 2022 Jun 13;13(1):3376. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-30735-4.

ABSTRACT

Polyethylene terephthalate is one of the most abundantly used polymers, but also a significant pollutant in oceans. Due to growing environmental concerns, polyethylene terephthalate alternatives are highly sought after. Here we present readily recyclable polyethylene terephthalate analogues, made entirely from woody biomass. Central to the concept is a two-step noble metal free catalytic sequence (Cu20-PMO catalyzed reductive catalytic fractionation and Raney Ni mediated catalytic funneling) that allows for obtaining a single aliphatic diol 4-(3-hydroxypropyl) cyclohexan-1-ol in high isolated yield (11.7 wt% on lignin basis), as well as other product streams that are converted to fuels, achieving a total carbon yield of 29.5%. The diol 4-(3-hydroxypropyl) cyclohexan-1-ol is co-polymerized with methyl esters of terephthalic acid and furan dicarboxylic acid, both of which can be derived from the cellulose residues, to obtain polyesters with competitive Mw and thermal properties (Tg of 70-90 °C). The polymers show excellent chemical recyclability in methanol and are thus promising candidates for the circular economy.

PMID:35697677 | DOI:10.1038/s41467-022-30735-4

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