Living cationic polymerization of isobutene

  • Tristan T. Tapper

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The polymerization of isobutene initiated by 1-chloro-1-phenylethane has been
investigated, and molecular weight studies conducted using size exclusion
chromatography. Polymerizations carried out in a 40/60 (v/v) mixture of dichloromethaneIcyclohexane, using titanium (IV) chloride as a catalyst in the presence of pyridine at -30 °C were found to be controlled and living. The number average molecular weights of the polymers increased linearly with monomer conversion, and the molecular weight distributions were between 1.15 and 1.20. Efficiencies of initiation were between 80 and 100%, and evidence was found to suggest that backbiting to the initiator had occurred, resulting in the formation of cyclic oligomers during the early stages of polymerization.
The kinetics of polymerization can be explained in terms of active species in.
equilibrium with dormant species. The effects of temperature. and dielectric constant on this equilibrium were studied and a model based upon the Fuoss equation was developed.
Pyridine was found to behave as proton trap in the system, and when it was used in excess the rate of polymerization was retarded. By assuming that the catalyst and pyridine formed a one to one complex, it was possible to show that the reaction was second order with respect to the catalyst.
The synthesis of low molecular weight polyisobutenes was studied. When the
concentration of initiator was increased relative to that of the isobutene, such that the theoretical degree of polymerization was 20 or less, the rate of initiation was slow compared to propagation. The efficiency of initiation in these polymerizations was typically between 30 and 40 %. Optimal conditions of temperature. and.catalyst concentration were established, leading to a 60 % efficiency of initiation.
A one-pot synthesis of phenol end-capped polyisobutene was attempted by adding phenol at the end of a living polymerization. Evidence to substantiate the existence of capped polymer chains in the resultant product was inconclusive.
Block copolymerizations of oxetane and isobutene were conducted using 1-chloro-1phenylethane/TiCl4, but no copolymer or oxetane homopolymer could be isolated.
Date of AwardSept 1999
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAllan J Amass (Supervisor)


  • Fuoss equation
  • dielectric constant
  • titanium (IV) chloride
  • 1-Chloro-1-phenylethane
  • oxetane

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