Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



Research Sponsor

Dr. Matthew Becker

First Reader

Dr. Matthew Panzner

Second Reader

Dr. Claire Tessier


Poly(propylene fumarate) is a promising material in the field of bone tissue engineering. A recently described chain growth polymerization was developed for the synthesis of poly(propylene fumarate). This pathway uses the ring-opening polymerization of maleic anhydride and propylene oxide with magnesium ethoxide as an initiator to yield poly(propylene maleate). The poly(propylene maleate) was then isomerized to poly(propylene fumarate) using diethyl amine. In order to scale up the reaction to a 20L reactor, several optimizations of the purification schemes was required. The main optimizations were done to the purification of poly(propylene maleate). Several methods were tested including replacing the water washes with brine washes, distillation to remove the remaining maleic anhydride, and the precipitation in diethyl ether. The diethyl ether precipitation method was significantly faster than the other methods and able to successfully remove the maleic anhydride. For these reasons the precipitation method was chosen for the purification of the poly(propylene maleate). The next step will be to attempt to improve the purification of poly(propylene fumarate). Once this is completed, the reaction will be ready for implementation at the 20 L batch reactor scale.