The ring opening polymerization of ring strained cyclic ethers

  • D.P.S. Riat

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The kinetics and mechanisms of the ring-opening polymerization of oxetane were studied using cationic and coordinated anionic catalysts. The cationic initiators used were BF30Et2!/ethanol, BF30Et2!/ethanediol and BF30Et2/propantriol. Kinetic determinations with the BF30Et2/diol system indicated that a 1: 1 BF3:0H ratio gave the maximum rate of polymerization and this ratio was employed to detenmne the overall rates of polymerization.
An overall second-order dependence was obtained when the system involved ethanediol or propantriol as co-catalyst and a 3/2-order dependence with ethanol, in each case the monomer gave a first-order relationship. This suggested that two mechanisms accounted for the cationic polymerization. These mechanisms were investigated and further evidence for these was obtained from the study of the complex formation of BF30Et2 and the co-catalysts by 1H NMR. Molecular weight studies (using size-exclusion chromatography) indicated that the hydroxyl ion acted as a chain transfer reagent when the [OH] > [BF3]. A linear relationship was observed when the number average molecular weight was plotted against [oxetane] at constant [BF3:0H], and similarly a linear dependency was observed on the BF3:0H 1:1 adduct at constant oxetane concentration. Copolymerization of oxetane and THF was carried out using BF30Et2/ethanol system. The reactivity ratios were calculated as rOXT = 1.2 ± 0.30 and rTHF = 0.14 ± 0.03. These copolymers were random copolymers with no evidence of oligomer formation.
The coordinated anionic catalyst, porphinato-aluminium chloride [(TPP)AICl], was used to produce a living polymerization of oxetane. An overall third-order kinetics was obtained, with a second-order with respect to the [(TPP)AICl] and a first-order with respect to the [oxetane] and a mechanism was postulated using these results.
The stereochemistry of [(TPP)AlCl] catalyst was investigated using cyclohexene and cyclopentene oxide monomers, using extensive 1H NMR, 2-D COSY and decoupling NMR techniques it was concluded that [(TPP)AlCl] gave rise to stereoregular polymers.
Date of AwardNov 1992
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAllan J Amass (Supervisor) & Brian Tighe (Supervisor)


  • ring-opening polymerization
  • cationic catalysts
  • coordinated anionic catalyst
  • oxetane
  • kinetics
  • mechanisms

Cite this