Chemical recycling of PET – a new heterogeneous catalytic route

Project Director: Dr. Neatu Florentina

Project ID:
PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2019-1969/ RECYCLE
Project coordinator: Dr. Florentina Neațu
Project type: National
Project Program:  TE
Funded by:  Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, UEFISCDI
Contractor:  National Institute of Materials Physics
Project Status: In progress
Start date:  01.09.2020
End date:  31.08.2022


Plastic is an essential material in our daily lives that has multiple functions: food packaging bottles and jars, insulators, microchips in phones and computers, textile industry and so on. The world’s annual consumption of plastic materials has increased from around 5 million tonnes in the ‘50s to nearly 300 million tonnes in 2020. Due to plastic’s resistance against degradation and its increased production in industry, the issue of plastic pollution has evolved to become a menace to global ecology. Therefore, there is an urgent need to resolve these environmental issues that minimise the importance of these materials that play an important role in our daily lives. All these recycling approaches have limitations because the PET can only undergo a finite number of processing cycles before their properties are significantly compromised ends up in the landfills or is incineration, being the source of others pollutants. However, PET could be recovered through chemical recycling, we could save the natural resources and the prices of polymers would be lower. RECYCLE propose a simple solution, to heterogeneously catalyse PET depolymerisation using surface modified flexible materials, in which 2D malleable flakes/sheets are surface modified by strong acidic functionalities, like sulfonates.

Project coordinator: Phd. Florentina Neatu -- Senior researcher I


Phd Mihaela Florea - Senior researcher I

Phd Mihaela Mirela Trandafir - Senior researcher

Phd Andrei Kuncser - Senior researcher III

Phd student Sabina Nicolae- Assistent researcher

Stage I - 2020

Preparation of 2D material containing Ti, Fe, Mn, Nb and Zr.

All the objectives were fully performed. The synthetic scientific report in .pdf format is available at the contracting unit.

Stage II - 2021

Preparation and characterization of solid acid catalysts

A number of double MXenes were successfully prepared and further modified with -SO3H groups. These materials were tested in PET depolymerization and proved to be effective in achieving catalytic depolymerization to the feedstock stage.

The objectives were fully met. The detailed results can be found in the scientific report submitted to the contracting authority.



1. 2nd International ONLINE Workshop on Functional MAX-materials (FunMAX 2021), 14-17 September 2021 with the work entitled "MXenes surface modification to obtain solid acids", Florentina Neațu, Iuliana M. Chirica, Ștefan Neațu, Michel W. Barsoum, Mihaela Florea (poster).
2. Catalysis Science & Technology Symposium 2021, 16-17 November 2021, with the work entitled "Selective oxidation of p-cymene using MAX Phase catalysts" Iuliana M. Chirica, Mihaela Trandafir, Florentina Neațu, Ștefan Neațu, Michel W. Barsoum, Mihaela Florea (poster). The poster was awarded the title of best poster.
3. 45th International Conference and Exposition on Advanced Ceramics (ICACC 2021), 8 – 12 Februarie 2021, with the work entitled “Different strategies for supporting Pd on MAX phases - efficient catalysts in chemoselective hydrogenation reactions”, Iuliana M. Chirica, Mihaela M. Trandafir, Florentina Neatu̧, Ştefan Neatu̧, Andrei C. Kuncser, Varun Natu, Michel W. Barsoum, Mihaela Florea; (oral presentation).
4. 2nd International Workshop on the properties of Functional MAX Materials (2nd FunMAX 2021), 14-17 Septembrie 2021, with the work entitled “Catalytic properties of MAX phases in selective oxidation reactions”, Iuliana M. Chiricaa, Mihaela M. Trandafir, Florentina Neațu, Ștefan Neațu, Michel W. Barsoum, Mihaela Florea; (prezentare orală).
1. J. Mater. Chem. A, 2021, 9, 19589-19612,, Applications of MAX phases and MXenes as catalysts, Iuliana M. Chirica, Anca G. Mirea, Ștefan Neațu, Mihaela Florea, Michel W. Barsoum, Florentina Neațu, journal with an impact factor of 12.732.


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