Catalytic Glycolysis of Poly(ethylene terephthalate) Using Zinc and Cobalt Oxides Recycled from Spent Batteries

  • Cynthia A. Fuentes
  • María V. Gallegos
  • Juan R. García
  • Jorge Sambeth
  • Miguel A. PelusoEmail author
Original Paper


The chemical recycling of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) to bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (BHET) was studied using recycled metal oxides. Recovered zinc (RZnO) and cobalt (RCoO) oxides were obtained after a biohydrometallurgical process to recycle spent alkaline and lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), respectively. Besides, a mixed oxide (Co/RZnO) was prepared by mechanical milling of 2.5 wt% of RCoO on RZnO. The structural, textural, and acidity properties of the catalysts were analyzed by XRD, XANES, SEM, TEM, FT-IR, SBET and pyridine-TPD. The depolymerization of PET (from soft-drink bottles) was carried out with ethylene glycol (EG) at 196 °C for 2 h, using PET/catalyst and PET/EG ratios of 100:1 and 1:8, respectively. The yields of the BHET monomer in the presence of RZnO, RCoO and Co/RZnO as catalysts were 50%, 10% and 80%, respectively. The highest catalytic activity of Co/RZnO could be attributed to the presence of weak and strong acid sites, its overall higher concentration of acid sites and a synergetic effect between Co3O4 and ZnO. The obtained BHET was characterized by DSC, FT-IR, 1H NMR and 13C NMR analyses, which confirmed the purity and structure of the monomer. Metal oxides obtained using spent alkaline and lithium-ion batteries as raw materials could be used as catalysts for waste PET treatment and pure BHET monomer synthesis.

Graphic Abstract


PET Glycolysis Recycling Spent batteries Depolymerization BHET 



The authors acknowledge the CONICET, CICPBA and UNLP (Argentina). We are thankful to P. Fetsis, and M. Theiller.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Investigación Y Desarrollo en Ciencias Aplicadas “Dr. Jorge J. Ronco” (CINDECA) (UNLP, CONICET, CICPBA)La PlataArgentina
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigaciones en Catálisis y Petroquímica “Ing. José Miguel Parera” INCAPE (UNL-CONICET)Santa FeArgentina

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