Catalyst Metal-Ligand Design for Rapid, Selective, and Solventless Depolymerization of Nylon-6 Plastics

Liwei Ye, Xiaoyang Liu, Kristen Beckett, Jacob Rothbaum, Clarissa Lincoln, Linda Broadbelt, Yosi Kratish, Tobin Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Developing effective catalysis to address end-of-life Nylon pollution is urgent yet remains underdeveloped. Nylon-6 is a resilient synthetic plastic and a major contributor to ocean pollution. Here, we report a metallocene catalytic system based on earth-abundant early transition and lanthanide metals that mediates Nylon-6 depolymerization at unprecedented rates up to 810 (..epsilon..-caprolactam) mol(Cat.)-1 h-1 at 240 degrees C in >/=99% yield. This solventless process operates with catalyst loadings as low as 0.04 mol% at temperatures as low as 220 degrees C - the mildest Nylon-6 depolymerization conditions reported to date. This metallocene catalysis can be carried out in a simulated continuous process, and the resulting ..epsilon..-caprolactam can be re-polymerized to higher-quality Nylon-6.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)172-189
Number of pages18
JournalChem
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-86196

Keywords

  • catalysis
  • depolymerization
  • end-of-life plastic
  • fishing net recycling
  • ligand design
  • metallocene catalysts
  • nylon
  • ocean plastics
  • plastic circularity
  • plastic recycling

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