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Home   /   Thesis   /   Chemical valorization of oxygenated and nitrogenated plastic through the catalytic cleavage of carbone-oxygen (C–O) et carbone-nitrogen (C-N) bonds

Chemical valorization of oxygenated and nitrogenated plastic through the catalytic cleavage of carbone-oxygen (C–O) et carbone-nitrogen (C-N) bonds

Chemistry Condensed matter physics, chemistry & nanosciences


Since the 1950s, the use of petroleum-based plastics has created a modern consumerist world based on the use of disposable products. Global production of plastic waste is therefore considerable, and has almost doubled in just 20 years, now reaching 350 million tonnes a year. This non-biodegradable plastic waste causes a great deal of environmental pollution (disturbance of flora and fauna, water and soil pollution, etc.). Barely 9% of this waste is recycled, the rest being burnt or landfilled. The health, climate and social problems inherent in this linear economy mean that we need to create a circularity for these materials by developing effective and robust recycling routes. While current recycling methods rely mainly on mechanical processes and are limited to specific types of waste (e.g. plastic water bottles), the development of chemical recycling methods seems promising for treating waste for which there are no recycling channels. Such chemical processes make it possible to recover the carbonaceous matter in plastics in order to regenerate new plastics.
Within this objective of material circularity, this doctoral project aims to develop new chemical recycling routes for mixed oxygen/nitrogen plastic waste such as polyurethanes (insulation foam, mattresses, etc.) and polyamides (textile fibres, circuit breaker boxes, etc.), for which recycling routes are virtually non-existent. This project is based on a strategy of depolymerizing these plastics by the selective cleavage of the carbon-oxygen and/or carbon-nitrogen bonds to form the corresponding monomers or their derivatives. To do that, catalytic systems involving metal catalysts coupled with abundant and inexpensive reducing agents, such as alcohols and formic acid, will be developed. The use of dihydrogen, an industrial reducing agent, will also be considered. In order to optimize these catalytic systems, we will seek to understand how they proceed and the mechanisms involved.


Institut rayonnement et matière de Saclay
Service Nanosciences et Innovation pour les Materiaux, la Biomédecine et l’Energie
Laboratoire de Chimie Moléculaire et de Catalyse pour l’Energie
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