Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

The emulsion copolymerization of styrene and sodium styrene sulfonate

Robert Weiss, The University of Akron


BACKGROUND: The synthesis of poly[styrene-co-(sodium styrene sulfonate)], poly(S-co-NaSS), with a high loading of sulfonate groups is of current interest owing to its potential use in numerous areas. A series of these copolymers with various sulfonate loads were synthesized using the emulsion polymerization technique with a study of the copolymerization kinetics, monomer reactivity ratio and copolymer properties. RESULTS: The copolymerization kinetics are significantly enhanced with an increase of NaSS feed in the polymerization. Monomer reactivity ratios were determined from NMR data by employing the Fineman–Ross and Kelen–Tüdös methods. Styrene (r1) and NaSS (r2) reactivity ratios are 0.5 and 10, respectively. The colloidal particle size of the copolymers depends upon the NaSS composition. The thermal stability of the copolymers is greatly enhanced with higher NaSS content in the copolymer backbone. Higher glass transition temperatures are observed for the copolymers with higher NaSS content. CONCLUSION: The reactivity ratio values suggest that styrene prefers to form copolymers whereas NaSS produces homopolymers. It is also found that styrene copolymerization with NaSS is only twice as fast as homopolymerization. In contrast, NaSS homopolymerization is ten times faster than NaSS copolymerization with styrene. The NaSS content in the copolymer backbone affects the thermal stability and the glass transition of the copolymers. Copyright © 2008 Society of Chemical Industry