Hydrogenative depolymerization of nylons

Amit Kumar, Niklas von Wolff, Michael Rauch, You-Quan Zou, Guy Shmul, Yehoshoa Ben-David, Gregory Leitus, Liat Avram, David Milstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The widespread crisis of plastic pollution demands discovery of new and sustainable approaches to degrade robust plastics such as nylons. Using a green and sustainable approach based on hydrogenation, in the presence of a ruthenium pincer catalyst at 150 oC and 70 bar H2, we report here the first example of hydrogenative depolymerization of conventional, widely used nylons, and polyamides in general. Un-der the same catalytic conditions, we also demonstrate the hydrogenation of a polyurethane to produce diol, diamine and methanol. Additionally, we demonstrate an example where monomers (and oligomers) obtained from the hydrogenation process can be dehydrogenated back to a poly(oligo)amide of approximately similar molecular weight, thus completing a closed loop cycle for recycling of poly-amides. Based on the experimental and DFT studies, we propose a catalytic cycle for the process that is facilitated by metal-ligand cooperativity. Overall, this unprecedented transformation, albeit at the proof of concept level, offers a new approach towards a cleaner route to recycling nylons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14267-14275
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number33
Early online date11 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2020


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