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Polyethylene upcycling to long-chain alkylaromatics by tandem hydrogenolysis/aromatization

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Science  23 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6515, pp. 437-441
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc5441

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A new future for polyethylene

Most current plastic recycling involves chopping up the waste and repurposing it in materials with less stringent engineering requirements than the original application. Chemical decomposition at the molecular level could, in principle, lead to higher-value products. However, the carbon-carbon bonds in polyethylene, the most common plastic, tend to resist such approaches without exposure to high-pressure hydrogen. F. Zhang et al. now report that a platinum/alumina catalyst can transform waste polyethylene directly into long-chain alkylbenzenes, a feedstock for detergent manufacture, with no need for external hydrogen (see the Perspective by Weckhuysen).

Science, this issue p. 437; see also p. 400

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