Chemo-biological upcycling of poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) developed in this study includes the following key steps: chemo-enzymatic PET depolymerization, biotransformation of terephthalic acid (TPA) into catechol, and its application as a coating agent. Monomeric units were first produced through PET glycolysis into bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (BHET), mono(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (MHET), and PET oligomers, and enzymatic hydrolysis of these glycolyzed products using Bacillus subtilis esterase (Bs2Est). Bs2Est efficiently hydrolyzed glycolyzed products into TPA as a key enzyme for chemo-enzymatic depolymerization. Furthermore, catechol solution produced from TPA via a whole-cell biotransformation (Escherichia coli) could be directly used for functional coating on various substrates after simple cell removal from the culture medium without further purification and water-evaporation. This work demonstrates a proof-of-concept of a PET upcycling strategy via a combination of chemo-biological conversion of PET waste into multifunctional coating materials.
- poly(ethylene terephthalate)