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ERIC Number: EJ918126
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-May
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 18
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
The Depolymerization of Poly(Ethylene Terephthalate) (PET) Using N-Heterocyclic Carbenes from Ionic Liquids
Kamber, Nahrain E.; Tsujii, Yasuhito; Keets, Kate; Waymouth, Robert M.; Pratt, Russell C.; Nyce, Gregory W.; Hedrick, James L.
Journal of Chemical Education, v87 n5 p519-521 May 2010
The depolymerization of the plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) is described in this laboratory procedure. The transesterification reaction used to depolymerize PET employs a highly efficient N-heterocyclic carbene catalyst derived from a commercially available imidazolium ionic liquid. N-heterocyclic carbenes are potent nucleophilic organic catalysts that provide an alternative to traditional metal alkoxide depolymerization catalysts. Deprotonation of the imidazolium generates an N-heterocyclic carbene, which catalyzed the glycolysis of PET in 1 h at atmospheric pressure in refluxing anhydrous tetrahydrofuran to afford bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (BHET). BHET is characterized by NMR and IR spectroscopy and melting point determination. This laboratory is designed for individual student work where each student depolymerizes PET prepared from a common water bottle or other source. This experiment is well suited for an introductory organic chemistry laboratory course or a polymer chemistry laboratory course. (Contains 2 figures and 1 note.)
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A