The burn of sulphur-rich fossil fuels continues to produce sulphur dioxide as a polluting gas, with high risks to humans and the environment. In PolySO2, we aim to uncover new controlled routes to attain the direct metal-catalysed copolymerisation of sulphur dioxide and sulfone-derived sources in combination with carbon dioxide and other oxygenated monomers. Our goal is to open new sustainable platforms for making unconventional materials from renewable resources that are designed for high performance and recyclability. Moreover, our study of the reaction mechanism will improve our fundamental understanding of the polymerisation steps, which will lead to the design of better metal catalysts and reaction conditions. First, we will investigate the ring-opening polymerisation (ROP) and ring-opening alternating copolymerisation (ROCOP) of these previously unexplored monomer sources. These methods will provide with unprecedented strategies to introduce custom linkages (aliphatic and aromatic) in the main-chain of newly developed polymers: poly(sulfite)s, poly(sulfonate)s, poly(sulfonic ester)s and block copolymers. Secondly, we will seek the best depolymerising strategies of such linear chains in an effort to demonstrate full chemical recyclability. Finally, we will apply the newly developed polymeric materials in the construction of robust elastomers (via phase segregation) and resins (via crosslinking) as well as their thermo-mechanical analysis. This action will promote the return of Dr. Fernando Vidal to the European scientific arena after 8 years in the USA and his retention as an independent researcher in polymer chemistry. His planned work in the group of Prof. Charlotte Williams at the University of Oxford and collaboration with her network of industrial partners will serve as the ideal launching mechanism for his future scientific endeavors.
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