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Metal-Oxide-Doped Silica Nanoparticles for the Catalytic Glycolysis of Polyethylene Terephthalate

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Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was depolymerized to monomer bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (BHET) using excess ethylene glycol (EG) in the presence of metal oxides that were impregnated on different forms of silica support [silica nanoparticles (SNPs) or silica microparticles (SMPs)] as glycolysis catalysts. The reactions were carried out at 300 °C and 1.1 MPa at an EG-to-PET molar ratio of 11:1 and a catalyst-to-PET-weight ratio of 1.0% for 40–80 min. Among the four prepared catalysts (Mn3O4/SNPs, ZnO/SNPs, Mn3O4/SMPs, and ZnO/SMPs), the Mn3O4/SNPs nanocomposite had the highest monomer yield (>90%). This high yield may be explained by the high surface area, amorphous and porous structure, and existence of numerous active sites on the nanocomposite catalyst. The BHET yield increased with time and reached the highest level where equilibrium was established between BHET and its dimer. The catalysts were characterized by their SEM, TEM, and BET surface areas, and via XRD, whereas the monomer BHET was characterized by HPLC and FT-IR. The glycolysis with the Mn3O4/SNPs nanocomposite as the glycolysis catalyst produced a maximum BHET in a short reaction time.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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