Differences in reactivity of epoxides in the copolymerisation with carbon dioxide by zinc-based catalysts: Propylene oxide versus cyclohexene oxide

Maximilian W. Lehenmeier, Christian Bruckmeier, Stephan Klaus, Joachim E. Dengler, Peter Deglmann, Anna Katharina Ott, Bernhard Rieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations

Abstract

The homogeneous dinuclear zinc catalyst going back to the work of Williams et al. is to date the most active catalyst for the copolymerisation of cyclohexene oxide and CO2 at one atmosphere of carbon dioxide. However, this catalyst shows no copolymer formation in the copolymerisation reaction of propylene oxide and carbon dioxide, instead only cyclic carbonate is found. This behaviour is known for many zinc-based catalysts, although the reasons are still unidentified. Within our studies, we focus on the parameters that are responsible for this typical behaviour. A deactivation of the catalyst due to a reaction with propylene oxide turns out to be negligible. Furthermore, the catalyst still shows poly(cyclohexene carbonate) formation in the presence of cyclic propylene carbonate, but the catalyst activity is dramatically reduced. In terpolymerisation reactions of CO2 with different ratios of cyclohexene oxide to propylene oxide, no incorporation of propylene oxide can be detected, which can only be explained by a very fast back-biting reaction. Kinetic investigations indicate a complex reaction network, which can be manifested by theoretical investigations. DFT calculations show that the ring strains of both epoxides are comparable and the kinetic barriers for the chain propagation even favour the poly(propylene carbonate) over the poly(cyclohexene carbonate) formation. Therefore, the crucial step in the copolymerisation of propylene oxide and carbon dioxide is the back-biting reaction in the case of the studied zinc catalyst. The depolymerisation is several orders of magnitude faster for poly(propylene carbonate) than for poly(cyclohexene carbonate).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8858-8869
Number of pages12
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Volume17
Issue number32
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2011

Keywords

  • carbon dioxide
  • copolymerization
  • epoxides
  • polycarbonates
  • zinc

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