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Comment Processing & Handling

A direct route for making polycarbonate from CO2 and diols

By Tetsuo Satoh |

A direct copolymerization of carbon dioxide and diols has been achieved by Keiichi Tomishige and Masazumi Tamura at Tohoku University (Sendai; www.che.tohoku.ac.jp) and Hiroshi Sugimoto at Tokyo University of Science (both Japan; www.sut.ac.jp). The synthesis takes place with a metal-oxide catalyst using 2-cyanopyridine as a promotor, and produces alternating co-oligomers with yields and selectivities of up to 99%. For example, a polycarbonate with molecular weight of 1,070 and dispersity (a measure of the polymer’s heterogeneity) of 1.33 is obtained with 97% yield after reacting 1,4-butandiol in an autoclave with CO2 at 5 MPa and a relatively mild temperature of 403K after 8 h. The catalyst, which is obtained by calcination, does not leach into the reaction solution, and maintains its activity after recovery from a reaction. The catalyst system is applicable for a wide variety of diols, including linear C4–C10 α,ω-diols, producing corresponding co-oligomers with yields of 94–99% and higher. These compounds cannot be made by conventional routes, such as the copolymerization of CO2 and cyclic ethers and ring-opening polymerization of cyclic carbonates. The chemists believe this new route is simpler and more environmentally…
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