Closed-Loop Polymer Upcycling by Installing Property-Enhancing Comonomer Sequences and Recyclability

Xia Liu, Miao Hong, Laura Falivene, Luigi Cavallo, Eugene Y.-X. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

The concept of upcycling postconsumer plastics into higher-value products is attractive, but the challenges remain to develop a cost-effective upcycling scheme, discover property-enhancing structures, and, most importantly, install recyclability into upcycled plastics to enable a circular lifecycle. Reported herein is a convenient and effective strategy to upcycle polyester, exemplified by poly(glycolic acid) (PGA), via transesterification (TEster) in bioderived, commercially available γ-butyrolactone (BL) that serves as both the solvent and comonomer, which generates sequence-defined copolymer poly(GA-co-BL). Owing to the isolated glycolic sequence present in the copolymer created uniquely by TEster, it exhibits much-enhanced thermal stability (≥44 °C) over both homopolymers or copolymers without such sequences. This upconverted copolymer is chemically recyclable, enabling a complete recovery of pure glycolic acid and BL feedstocks.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4570-4578
Number of pages9
JournalMacromolecules
Volume52
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 12 2019

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