The polymerization of lactic acid anhydrosulphite by anionic initiators

  • L.R. Adams

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is primarily concerned with the synthesis and polymerization of 5-methyl-1;3, 2-dioxathiolan-4-one-2-oxide (lactic acid anhydrosulphite (LAAS)) using anionic initiators under various conditions. Poly(lactic acid) is a biodegradable polymer which finds many uses in biomedical applications such as drug-delivery and wound-support systems. For such applications it is desirable to produce polymers having predictable molecular weight distributions and crystallinity, The use of anionic initiators offers a potential route to the creation of living polymers.
The synthesis of LAAS was achieved by means of an established route though the
procedure was modified to some extent and a new method of purification of the monomer using copper oxides was introduced, Chromatographic purification methods were also examined but found to be ineffective. An unusual impurity was discovered in some syntheses and this was identified by means of 1H and 13C NMR, elemental analysis and GC-MS.
Since poly-α-esters having hydroxyl-bearing substituents might be expected to have high equilibrium water contents and hence low surface tension characteristics which might aid bio-compatibility, synthesis of gluconic acid anhydrosulphite was also attempted and the product characterised by 1H and 13C NMR.
The kinetics of the decomposition of lactic acid anhydrosulphite by lithium tert-butoxide in nitrobenzene has been examined by means of gas evolution measurements. The kinetics of the reaction with potassium tert-butoxide (and also sec-butyl lithium) in tetrahydrofuran has been studied using calorimetric techniques.
LAAS was block co-polymerized with styrene and also with 1,3-butadiene in
tetrahydrofuran (in the latter case a statistical co-polymer was also produced).

Date of AwardAug 1994
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAllan J Amass (Supervisor)


  • α-hydroxy acid
  • anionic ipolymerization
  • biodegradable
  • poly(lactic acid)
  • anhydrosulphite

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