Synthesis of Biobased Diethyl Terephthalate via Diels-Alder Addition of Ethylene to 2,5-Furandicarboxylic Acid Diethyl Ester: An Alternative Route to 100% Biobased Poly(ethylene terephthalate)

Joseph K. Ogunjobi, Thomas J. Farmer*, C. Robert McElroy, Simon W. Breeden, Duncan J. MacQuarrie, David Thornthwaite, James H. Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) is a ubiquitous thermoplastic currently produced from nonrenewable fossil resources; as such, sustainable biobased routes to the key terephthalate monomer are being widely pursued. Herein is demonstrated a greener solventless route to biobased diethyl terephthalate via a one-pot heterogeneous Lewis acid catalyzed Diels-Alder addition and dehydration of 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid diethyl ester with ethylene, giving yields of terephthalate up to 59% for the key Diels-Alder addition step. A metrics-based comparison against alternative published biobased routes (available from sugars, cellulose and hemicellulose) shows that the clean synthetic pathway developed herein gives a practical atom economy, overall yield and selectivity, making it a viable alternative to routes currently under development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8183-8194
Number of pages12
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 American Chemical Society. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • Biobased PET
  • Biobased terephthalate
  • Dielsa-Alder addition
  • Furan diester
  • Green metrics
  • Heterogeneous catalysis
  • Solventless

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