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Closed-loop recycling offers the opportunity to help mitigate plastic waste through reversible polymer construction and deconstruction. While examples of the chemical recycling polymers are known, few have been applied to materials derived from abundant commodity olefinic monomers that are the building blocks of ubiquitous plastic resins. Here we describe a [2+2] cycloaddition oligomerization of 1,3-butadiene to yield a previously unrealized telechelic microstructure of (1,n’-divinyl)oligocyclobutane. This material is thermally stable, has stereoregular segments arising from chain-end control, and exhibits high crystallinity even at low molecular weight. Exposure of the oligocyclobutane to vacuum in the presence of the pyridine(diimine) iron precatalyst used to synthesize it resulted in deoligomerization to generate pristine butadiene, demonstrating a rare example of closed-loop chemical recycling of an oligomeric material derived from a commodity hydrocarbon feedstock.
C. R. K. and P. J. C. are inventors on the patent application US 2019/0211142 A1 titled “Oligomeric and Polymeric Species Comprising Cyclobutane Units”. J. M. Y., A. E. C., S. J. M. and J. A. T. are employees of ExxonMobil Chemical Company.