Progressing ultragreen, energy-efficient biobased depolymerization of poly(ethylene terephthalate) via microwave-assisted green deep eutectic solvent and enzymatic treatment
Attallah, Olivia A.
Brennan Fournet, Margaret
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Effective interfacing of energy-efficient and biobased technologies presents an all-green route to achieving continuous circular production, utilization, and reproduction of plastics. Here, we show combined ultragreen chemical and biocatalytic depolymerization of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) using deep eutectic solvent (DES)-based low-energy microwave (MW) treatment followed by enzymatic hydrolysis. DESs are emerging as attractive sustainable catalysts due to their low toxicity, biodegradability, and unique biological compatibility. A green DES with triplet composition of choline chloride, glycerol, and urea was selected for PET depolymerization under MW irradiation without the use of additional depolymerization agents. Treatment conditions were studied using Box-Behnken design (BBD) with respect to MW irradiation time, MW power, and volume of DES. Under the optimized conditions of 20 mL DES volume, 260 W MW power, and 3 min MW time, a significant increase in the carbonyl index and PET percentage weight loss was observed. The combined MW-assisted DES depolymerization and enzymatic hydrolysis of the treated PET residue using LCC variant ICCG resulted in a total monomer conversion of ≈16% (w/w) in the form of terephthalic acid, mono-(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate, and bis-(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate. Such high monomer conversion in comparison to enzymatically hydrolyzed virgin PET (1.56% (w/w)) could be attributed to the recognized depolymerization effect of the selected DES MW treatment process. Hence, MW-assisted DES technology proved itself as an efficient process for boosting the biodepolymerization of PET in an ultrafast and eco-friendly manner.
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