GREEN CHEMISTRY

Making plastic bottles more renewable

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Science  20 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6190, pp. 1355
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6190.1355-e

Plastic bottle made from all-green stock.

PHOTO: © MAXAL TAMOR/ALAMY

All of the components of the plastic used to make clear soda bottles now can be supplied by renewable materials. The polymer polyethylene terphthalate is made from two monomers, ethylene and terphthalic acid (PTA). Chemists already can make ethylene from ethanol produced from plants, but PTA is made by oxidizing p-xylene, a petroleum derivative. Pachero and Davis show that a chemical derived on a commercial scale from biomass, 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), can be converted to PTA with the help of a catalyst called tin-beta. This process opens a route to more environmentally friendly plastic bottle manufacture.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1408345111 (2014).

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