Sustainability-inspired upcycling of waste polyethylene terephthalate plastic into porous carbon for CO2capture

Xiangzhou Yuan, Nallapaneni Manoj Kumar, Boris Brigljević, Shuangjun Li, Shuai Deng, Manhee Byun, Boreum Lee, Carol Sze Ki Lin, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Ki Bong Lee, Shauhrat S. Chopra, Hankwon Lim, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


In addition to climate change, plastic pollution is widely recognized as one of the most severe environmental concerns. Waste plastic-derived advanced materials for carbon capture provide promising solutions to these environmental issues. However, the environmental sustainability and economic feasibility of such a novel approach are still unclear for it to be implemented on an industrial scale globally. As synthesis routes differ in terms of their environmental impact and economic feasibility, we synthesized three waste polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic-derived porous carbons (PET6-CO2-9, PET6-K7, and PET6-KU7) using physical and chemical activation routes. The resulting porous carbons exhibited high CO2-capture capacities. Based on techno-economic and life-cycle assessments of the scaled-up industrial processes, we showed that the physical CO2 activation approach performs the best in the reduction of carbon emissions, providing the possibility for carbon neutrality while exhibiting financial viability (net present value of at least €19.22 million over the operating life of the project). Owing to the environmental benefits and economic feasibility of this approach, we highlighted its potential as a multifunctional alternative to conventional CO2 absorption and plastic waste management technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1494-1504
Number of pages11
JournalGreen Chemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb 21

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (No. 2021R1A2C2011734) (Contribution: 100%). This research was also supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2021R1A6A1A10045235) and by OJEong Resilience Institute, Korea University, Republic of Korea. In addition, this research was supported by the 2021 Research Fund (1.210103.01) of UNIST (Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology) and by an additional NRF grant funded by the Korean government (NRF-2019M1A2A2065614).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution


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