Chemically Recyclable Linear and Branched Polyethylenes Synthesized from Stoichiometrically Self-Balanced Telechelic Polyethylenes

Yoon-Jung Jang, Sam Nguyen, Marc A. Hillmyer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a widely used commercial plastic due to its excellent mechanical properties, chemical resistance, and water vapor barrier properties. However, less than 10% of HDPE is mechanically recycled, and the chemical recycling of HDPE is challenging due to the inherent strength of the carbon-carbon backbone bonds. Here, we report chemically recyclable linear and branched HDPE with sparse backbone ester groups synthesized from the transesterification of telechelic polyethylene macromonomers. Stoichiometrically self-balanced telechelic polyethylenes underwent transesterification polymerization to produce the PE-ester samples with high number-average molar masses of up to 111 kg/mol. Moreover, the transesterification polymerization of the telechelic polyethylenes and the multifunctional diethyl 5-(hydroxymethyl)isophthalate generated branched PE-esters. Thermal and mechanical properties of the PE-esters were comparable to those of commercial HDPE and tunable through control of the ester content in the backbone. In addition, branched PE-esters showed higher levels of melt strain hardening compared with linear versions. The PE-ester was depolymerized into telechelic macromonomers through straightforward methanolysis, and the resulting macromonomers could be effectively repolymerized to generate a high molar mass recycled PE-ester sample. This is a new and promising method for synthesizing and recycling high-molar-mass linear and branched PE-esters, which are competitive with HDPE and have easily tailorable properties.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)4771-4782
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - Feb 21 2024

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    © 2024 American Chemical Society.

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