Electrochemical Production of Glycolate Fuelled By Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastics with Improved Techno-Economics

Mengmeng Du, Yu Zhang, Sailei Kang, Chao Xu, Yingxin Ma, Lejuan Cai, Ye Zhu, Yang Chai, Bocheng Qiu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Electrochemical valorization of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste streams into commodity chemicals offers a potentially sustainable route for creating a circular plastic economy. However, PET wastes upcycling into valuable C2 product remains a huge challenge by the lack of an electrocatalyst that can steer the oxidation economically and selectively. Here, it is reported a catalyst comprising Pt nanoparticles hybridized with γ-NiOOH nanosheets supported on Ni foam (Pt/γ-NiOOH/NF) that favors electrochemical transformation of real-word PET hydrolysate into glycolate with high Faradaic efficiency (> 90%) and selectivity (> 90%) across wide reactant (ethylene glycol, EG) concentration ranges under a marginal applied voltage of 0.55 V, which can be paired with cathodic hydrogen production. Computational studies combined with experimental characterizations elucidate that the Pt/γ-NiOOH interface with substantial charge accumulation gives rise to an optimized adsorption energy of EG and a decreased energy barrier of potential determining step. A techno-economic analysis demonstrates that, with the nearly same amount of resource investment, the electroreforming strategy towards glycolate production can raise revenue by up to 2.2 times relative to conventional chemical process. This work may thus serve as a framework for PET wastes valorization process with net-zero carbon footprint and high economic viability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2303693
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2023


  • electrochemistry
  • glycolate
  • plastic upcycling
  • selectivity
  • techno-economics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • General Chemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • General Materials Science
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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