Converting Poly(ethylene terephthalate) to Rigid Thermosets: Performance and Recycling Considerations

Research output: NRELPresentation


Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) is one of today's most ubiquitous plastics finding predominant uses in textiles and food applications. Due to its prolific implementation, PET already possesses a robust mechanical recycling infrastructure; however, current requirements for mechanical recycling still leads to an underutilization of PET. Thus, to keep carbon in the economy and further encourage decarbonization efforts it is paramount to find other applications for PET. In the present work, PET is converted to thermoset applications, specifically those relevant to fiber reinforced plastics. In one case, bioderived monomers are utilized to convert glycolyzed PET into unsaturated polyesters resins which can possess better thermomechanical performance than their petrochemical counterpart while also emitting less GHG emissions in their manufacture. In the second case, the constituent monomers from PET are converted into epoxies and reacted with either amines or anhydrides to form thermoset networks. When anhydrides are implemented alongside carboxylate-based epoxies, 100% monomer recyclability is obtainable. Meanwhile, when amines are used, performance of the materials can be enhanced at the sacrifice of some recyclability. Overall, this work demonstrates the potential to further incentivize the reclamation of materials through multiple second life applications in pursuance of maintaining carbon in today's material economy.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Spring 2023 Meeting, 26-30 March 2023, Indianapolis, Indiana

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2800-85240


  • PET
  • plastics
  • polymers
  • thermosets
  • upcycling


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