New Route to Sustainable Plastic

  • Author: ChemViews
  • Published Date: 14 October 2011
  • Source / Publisher: Chemistry - A European Journal/Wiley-VCH
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
thumbnail image: New Route to Sustainable Plastic

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a widely used plastic with applications ranging from beverage containers to synthetic fibers. Conventionally, PET is mass-produced from fossil-fuel-based materials such as p-xylene obtained from crude oil.


Mika Shirmizu and Dean Toste, University of California, Berkeley, USA, have developed a sustainable method for PET production that uses solely bio-renewable resources. They use 2,5-dimethylfuran derived from lignocellulosic biomass and acrolein produced from glycerol, a side product of biodiesel production, to make p-xylene. The route consisted of a Diels–Alder reaction, oxidation, dehydrative aromatization, and decarboxylation and was designed to maximize atom economy and avoid toxic byproducts.

New route to sustainable PET

Bio-derived p-xylene was obtained in 34 % overall yield and could easily replace crude-oil derived p-xylene in the industrial production of PET with few changes to the downstream infrastructure and operational methods.

Images: © Wiley-VCH


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Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies)published by Wiley-VCH