Optimization of neutral hydrolysis reaction of post-consumer PET for chemical recycling
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The neutral hydrolysis reaction of post-consumer poly(ethylene terephthalate) in solid state was studied through the reaction of the polymer with water at the molar ratio 1:91 with autogenous pressure. Two sizes of post-consumer PET flakes and temperatures of 135 °C, 170°C and 205°C with pressures of 4.0 atm, 7.5 atm and 13.5 atm, respectively, were considered. With reaction time equal to 6h, the method reached 99% depolymerization at 205°C, 8.2% at 170 °C and 1.7% at 135°C. The reaction extension was measured by separating the terephthalic acid formed in the process and calculating by gravimetry how much material could still be reacted. Through the viscosimetry of diluted, solutions and the counting of carboxylic end groups in the remaining material from the gravimetric assay, it was possible to suggest that the reaction occurs randomly and in the whole volume of the polymeric particle and not solely on the surface. The terephthalic acid obtained and then purified was characterized by elemental analysis, magnetic nuclear resonance, size and panicle size distribution and spectrophotometry in the visible spectrum, and it was similar to the petrochemical equivalent, with purity recorded in carbon base equal to 99.9%.