A recyclable metal-free catalytic system for the cationic ring-opening polymerization of glycidol under ambient conditions

Si Eun Kim, Hyun Ji Yang, Soonyoung Choi, Eunbyul Hwang, Minseong Kim, Hyun Jong Paik, Ji Eun Jeong, Young Il Park, Jin Chul Kim, Byeong Su Kim, Sang Ho Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


A recyclable catalytic system for ionic polymerization under ambient conditions is still undoubtedly a challenging issue that needs to be addressed for industrial production. In this study, a metal-free cationic ring-opening polymerization of glycidol (GD) using tris(pentafluorophenyl)borane (B(C6F5)3, BCF) as a catalyst affords a well-controlled branched cyclic polyglycidol (BC-PGD) structure and a recycling polymerization process was achieved using unpurified reagents and ambient conditions. Although homogeneous catalysts cannot usually be readily recycled during polymerization, the growing PGD chains in nonpolar solvents induces self-precipitation in catalyst solutions with increasing molecular weight and hydrophilicity, causing a phase separation of PGD with a uniform molecular weight distribution. Specifically, the recycling polymerization process is successfully performed by repeating the simple sequence of decantation and addition of the unpurified monomer. The unique structure of the obtained PGDs was confirmed by 1H NMR, inverse-gated 13C NMR analyses, SEC, and MALDI-ToF-MS. Based on the green and recyclable BCF-catalyzed cationic ring-opening polymerization, more intriguing examples with simple and well-reproducible polymerization techniques are anticipated for challenging industrial applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-258
Number of pages8
JournalGreen Chemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jan 7

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE, Korea) under the Industrial Technology Innovation Program (No. 20011123), a National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (No. 2020R1C1C1005569), and the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT) (No. KS2041-00). This work was also supported by the NRF (NRF-2021R1A2C3004978).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution


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