Seminar Highlight

Jeffery Byers

May 12, 2023 | 1:00 pm

CLB 104

New Catalysts for Polymerization and Depolymerization



As we move to a more sustainable plastics economy, catalysis will play a central role for their synthesis and recycling. In this talk, a strategy for chemical recycling that couples redox-switchable polymerization catalysis with reactive distillation depolymerization is presented. Synthesis of a novel thermoplastic elastomer derived from renewable resources was achieved through application of redox-switchable polymerization catalysts. This thermoplastic elastomer can be formulated so that it has properties similar to polyethylene and can be depolymerized to its constituent monomers using a catalytic reactive distillation technique. In addition to the chemical recycling of the thermoplastic elastomer, application of similar catalytic reactive distillation reactions will be discussed that enable the depolymerization of high ceiling temperature polyesters and polycarbonates.


Jeff was born and raised in Las Cruces, NM. He attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry in 2000. Jeff obtained his Ph. D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology under the guidance of Prof. John E. Bercaw. After obtaining his Ph. D. in 2007, Jeff completed his training with a postdoctoral position in Organic Chemistry in the laboratory of Prof. Timothy F. Jamison at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jeff started his independent career at Boston College in 2011, where he is currently a Professor of Chemistry. Jeff’s research lab focuses on fundamental and applied organometallic chemistry in the areas of energy science, sustainable polymer synthesis, and green organic methodology development. In recognition for his accomplishments in research as well as his contributions to chemical education and outreach, Jeff has been awarded an NSF-CAREER award, the PMSE Young Investigator Award, and is a Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar. In addition to his passion for chemistry, Jeff enjoys classic literature and film, is an avid sports fan, and enjoys spending time outdoors.