Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SUSPOL (European Joint Doctorate in Organocatalysis and Sustainable Polymers)
Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31
Different areas were identified where there was some existing state-of-the-art but the progress was not sufficient to address current challenges.
1) One of the limitations of organocatalysis is the low thermal stability of the organic catalyst to be used at high temperatures. Most of the industrial processes of commodity polymers require the utilization of temperature close to 200 ºC to be able to polymerize the monomers in efficient yields and to get appropriate viscosities for the preparation of different parts with different shape and morphologies. The ESRs of SUSPOL have gone beyond the state of the art because they have been able to use protic ionic liquids as catalysts able to resist temperatures above 200 ºC.
2) The second challenge in organocatalyzed polymerizations is to be able to prepare new catalyst families for the stereocontrol polymerization of polymers. Stereocontrol is an important feature of polymers; the stereoregularity is a necessary condition for crystalline polymers. Given the excellent performance and almost limitless opportunities of ligand/metal combinations, it is not surprising that transition metals and organometallic catalysts have dominated the field of stereocontrolled polymerization. In this sense, SUSPOL ESRs have been able to design two new catalyst families able to promote the stereochemical outcome from racemic mixture at room temperature.
3) Another important factor that has been raised by the society is the utilization of renewable feedstocks to prepare plastics. Most of the plastics are generated using fossil fuel resources, which is known that are limited. ESR from SUSPOL are designing new routes for the valorization of CO2. In the last decade many efforts have been made to use CO2 for the production of monomers and polymers but mainly employing metal catalysts. SUSPOL ESR have been able to design both new organocatalysis to improve the CO2 fixation into epoxides for the preparation of cyclic carbonates and also organocatalysts able to promote the copolymerization of epoxides and CO2 in situ to generate high added value polymers.
4) One of the open challenges in organocatalyzed polymerizations is to be able to efficiently promote polymerizations in aqueous media. Organic compounds such acids and bases are usually deactivated in aqueous conditions and therefore their utilization in water has been limited. One possibility to facilitate their utilization in aqueous media is the incorporation of an organocatalyst inside a polymer chain able to nano-assemble in aqueous media. In this way, hydrophobic nano-pockets dispersed in aqueous media can be generated, which can allow the direct polymerization in water.
All these being said, it is clear that ESRs from SUSPOL-EJD project are going beyond the state of the art in different areas related to organocatalyzed polymerizations and these results will have a tremendous socio economical impact.