Solar Energy & Advanced Materials Research Group


Zhe Yuan


Zhe Yuan obtained his BSc degree of chemistry from the School of Molecular Science in Arizona State University. He obtained his MSc degree of Materials for Energy and Environment from the department of Chemistry in University College London (UCL). He is now a PhD student in Prof. Junwang Tang’s group at the Department of Chemical Engineering in UCL, focusing on Microwave-Assisted PET Decomposition.

Research project

Title: Investigation of Heterogeneous Catalysts for Microwave-assisted Glycolysis of PET

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a kind of thermoplastic polyester with superior physical and chemical properties. It is the most favourable packaging material for beverage bottle with unbreakable and lightweight characters. However, the enormous consumption of PET makes the disposal of post-consumer PET waste a problem. The final destination of PET waste is creating economic and environmental concerns. Glycolysis of PET with ethylene glycol (EG) as solvent is an effective method to produce high purity of monomer bis (2-hydroxyethyl terephthalate) (BHET). Traditionally, the glycolysis of PET is catalysed by metal acetate, metal chloride, metal sulfate, and alkaline carbonate etc. These catalysts can dissolve in the EG to perform homogeneous catalysis and they show good catalytic activity with high yield of BHET. However, it is difficult to separate and reutilise the catalysts from the products. The aim of the investigation is to find the heterogeneous catalysts for microwave-assisted glycolysis of PET. Compared to homogeneous catalysts, the heterogeneous catalyst can be easily recycled and reused.


BSc in Chemistry, Arizona State University, USA, 2016

MSc in Materials for Energy and Environment, University College London, UK, 2019