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Living/Controlled Anionic Polymerization of Glycolide in Fluoroalcohols: Toward Sustainable Bioplastics

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-29, 14:39 authored by Pengfei Zhang, Viko Ladelta, Nikos Hadjichristidis
Ring-opening polymerization (ROP) is a promising approach to accessing well-defined polyesters with superior (bio)degradability and recyclability. However, the living/controlled polymerization of glycolide (GL), a well-known sustainable monomer derived from carbon monoxide/dioxide, has never been reported due to the extremely low solubility of its polymer in common solvents. Herein, we report the first living/controlled anionic ROP of GL in strong protic fluoroalcohols (FAs), which are conventionally considered incompatible with anionic polymerization. Well-defined polyglycolide (PGA, Đ < 1.15, Mn up to 55.4 kg mol–1) and various PGA-based macromolecules are obtained at room temperature for the first time. NMR titration and computational studies revealed that FAs simultaneously activate the chain end and monomer without being involved in initiation. Low-boiling-point FAs and PGA can be recycled through simple distillation and sublimation at 220 °C in vacuo, respectively, providing a promising sustainable alternative for tackling plastic pollution problems.

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