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

28 Scopus citations


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
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 12 2019

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The work done at SIOC was supported by The Thousand Talents Plan for Young Scholars of China, The Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (No. 17JC1401200) to M.H. and the work performed at CSU was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF-1664915) to E.Y.-X.C.


Dive into the research topics of 'Closed-Loop Polymer Upcycling by Installing Property-Enhancing Comonomer Sequences and Recyclability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this