The cationic ring-opening polymerization of tetrahydrofuran with 12-tungstophosphoric acid.
ABSTRACT The cationic ring-opening polymerization reaction of tetrahydrofuran at 20 degrees C was catalyzed by H3PW12O40 x 13 H2O as solid acid catalyst. The effect of the proportions of acetic anhydride and catalyst, reaction time and support on the polymerization reaction was investigated. It has been found that the yield and the viscosity of the polymer depend on the proportion of acetic anhydride, the presence of the latter in the reactant mixture being required for the ring-opening. The catalytic activity of the alumina-supported heteropolyacid results showed that Brønsted acid sites are more effective than Lewis ones for the cationic ring-opening polymerization.
Article: Preparation of cyclic ethers for polyether synthesis by catalytic ring-closing enyne metathesis of alkynyl ethers
[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Polyethers, both aliphatic, such as poly(ethylene oxide), poly(propylene oxide), etc., and wholly aromatic ones, such as poly(phenylene oxide)s, are commercially important materials. Polymers belonging to the former class are primarily synthesized via a ring-opening polymerization route, while those belonging to the latter are prepared via either oxidative coupling or nucleophilic aromatic substitution approaches. Polyethers that contain both aromatic and aliphatic units in their backbone are far less common. This review will discuss some of the recent advances in the preparation of polyethers, primarily focussing on those where the ether linkage is generated during polymerization. Although the standard ring-opening polymerization (ROP) route toward aliphatic polyethers has witnessed several interesting developments in recent years, it will not be covered in this review. The last section deals with a new melt-transetherification approach for the preparation of poly(xylylene alkylene ether)s developed in our laboratory.Macromolecular Rapid Communications 12/2001; 22(18):1463 - 1473. · 4.60 Impact Factor
Article: Heterogeneous Catalysis.Chemical Reviews 03/1998; 98(1):199-218. · 40.20 Impact Factor
Molecules 2010, 15, 1398-1407; doi:10.3390/molecules15031398
The Cationic Ring-Opening Polymerization of Tetrahydrofuran
with 12-Tungstophosphoric Acid
Ahmed Aouissi *, Salem S. Al-Deyab and Hassan Al-Shahri
Chemistry Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Received: 8 January 2010; in revised form: 4 February 2010 / Accepted: 1 March 2010 /
Published: 8 March 2010
Abstract: The cationic ring-opening polymerization reaction of tetrahydrofuran at 20 ºC
was catalyzed by H3PW12O40·13H2O as solid acid catalyst. The effect of the proportions of
acetic anhydride and catalyst, reaction time and support on the polymerization reaction was
investigated. It has been found that the yield and the viscosity of the polymer depend on
the proportion of acetic anhydride, the presence of the latter in the reactant mixture being
required for the ring-opening. The catalytic activity of the alumina-supported
heteropolyacid results showed that Brønsted acid sites are more effective than Lewis ones
for the cationic ring-opening polymerization.
Keywords: cationic polymerization; cyclic ethers; heteropolyacid; tetrahydrofuran;
Due to their high polarizability and flexibility, polyethers constitute a very important soft segment
for producing thermoplastic elastomers such as polyesters (Hytrel®) and polyurethanes (Spandex).
They represent a key ingredient in the production of a variety of elastomeric products. Therefore, they
have been the subject of a large number of papers [1–5]. The polymerization for their production is
initiated by electrophilic agents such as Brønsted acids (HCl, H2SO4, HClO4, etc.) and Lewis acids
(AlCl3, BF3.OEt2, TiCl4, etc.). However, the protonic acid catalysts used are very noxious and
corrosive. As for Lewis acids, it is known that their use requires large amounts to achieve acceptable
yields of polymers. Increasing environmental concerns in recent years have resulted in a demand for
Molecules 2010, 15
more effective catalytic processes. In this regard, studies have been carried out on the development of
solid acids to replace aggressive and dangerous homogeneous acids to overcome the problems of
separating the catalyst from the products and the disposal of solid/liquid wastes.
Solid Brønsted acids with superacidic character, such as the Keggin-type heteropolyacids, are
known as highly active catalysts [6–11]. Due to their strong acidity, these “superacids” catalyze
various reactions much more effectively than the conventional protonic acids [12,13]. They have been
found efficient for a variety of organic reactions [14–16]. In recent years, heteropolyacids have been
used as catalysts to induce the polymerization of various monomers such as cyclic ethers, styrene,
acetals, polyalcohols and lactones [17–20]. In our previous paper  we have reported the
polymerization of tetrahydrofuran catalyzed by a series of heteropolyanions and initiated by acetic
anhydride (AA). It was shown that 12-tungstophosphoric acid (12-HPW, H3PW12O40.13H2O) was the
best catalyst among the series of heteropolyanion catalysts tested. This fact prompted us to investigate
the cationic ring-opening polymerization of tetrahydrofuran (THF) by this efficient catalyst. The effect
of AA proportion, reaction time, catalyst amount and support on the polymerization were investigated.
2. Results and Discussion
2.1. Catalyst characterization
The identity of the synthesized H3PW12O40.13H2O was proven by comparison of its FTIR and
thermogravimetric analysis data with those reported in literature . The main characteristic bands of
the Keggin structure are observed at 1,080–1,060 cm-1 (νas P-Oa), at 990–960 cm-1 (νas Mo-Od), at
900–870 cm-1(νa Mo-Od-Mo), and at 810–760 cm-1 (νas Mo-Oc-Mo). The number of hydrogen atoms
and water molecules in the H3PW12O40·13H2O was determined by thermogravimetric analysis through
the weight loss observed as the temperature is increased. Loss of crystallization water (13–14 H2O)
was observed between 160 and 280 ºC. Loss of the ‘constitutional’ water molecules, i.e. the protons
bound to the polyanion external oxygens, are (1.5 H2O) was observed above 350 ºC. This result is in
agreement with published results .
Figure 1. 1H-NMR spectrum of poly(THF) in CD3OCD3.
Molecules 2010, 15
2.2. Polymer characterization
The polymerization of THF can be induced by Keggin-type heteropolyacids under mild conditions.
As evidenced by 1H-NMR (Figure 1 and Table 1), the results showed that H3PW12O40·13H2O induced
the polymerization of tetrahydrofuran. The number average molecular weight (
can be calculated by integrating the repeat unit protons with the end-group protons on the basis of the
integral data :
M = 102 + 72 n. It has been found that the values vary from 1,360 to 4,535 g/mol.
M ) for the polymers
Table 1. Chemical shift of polymer protons.
The ring opening polymerization proceeds via a cationic mechanism (Scheme 1). In this mechanism
we assume that the protons carried by the heteropolyacid induce the polymerization.
Figure 2. Mechanism of THF ring opening followed by polymerization.
Molecules 2010, 15
The first stage is the protonation of the acetic anhydride. The next stage is a nucleophilic attack of
the oxygen of the THF on the carbocation of the chains in growth [24,25]. The presence of the acetate
groups at the two ends of the chain was clearly identified by 1H-NMR, therefore the last stage must be
a nucleophilic attack on the carbon located alpha to the positive charge bearing oxygen of the chains in
growth by the oxygen of the acetic acid formed in the first stage from the protonation of acetic
In order to investigate the activity of Brønsted solid acid catalyst, H3PW12O40·13H2O for the
polymerization of cyclic ether, we have investigated the effect of the AA proportion, the amount of the
catalyst, the polymerization reaction time and the support on the polymerization reaction
2.3.1. Effect of AA proportion
The results of THF polymerization induced by 0.1 g of 12-tungstophosphoric acid in bulk during
1.5 h are reported in Figure 2 and Table 2. It can be seen from these results that the value of the
conversion depends on the AA proportion. In fact, when the AA/THF volume ratio varies from 0 to
0.25 the conversion increases from 0% to 60%, then after that it decreases. The decrease of the
conversion at high AA proportions might be due to consumption of the heteropolyacid protons by the
acetic anhydride leading to acetic acid (a weak acid). In fact, when the reaction was performed without
the catalyst but with acetic acid, no polymer was obtained. It is also noteworthy that the
polymerization does not occur in the absence of AA. The decrease of the conversion at high acetic
anhydride proportions is due to an increase in the number of methyl groups at the extremities of the
chains which blocks the polymer chain growth.
Figure 3. Effect of AA proportion on the yield of poly(THF) catalyzed by 0.1 g of
H3PW12O40·13H2O. Reaction conditions: T = 20 ºC; Reaction time = 1.5 h.
A.A / THF : volume ratio
Molecules 2010, 15
Table 2. Influence of the AA proportion on the intrinsic viscosity of poly(THF) catalyzed
by 0.1g of H3PW12O40·13H2O. Reaction conditions: T = 20 ºC; Reaction time = 1.5 h.
AA/THF (volume ratio)
 (dL g-1)
If one takes into account simultaneously the conversion and the viscosity, one can see from the
Figure 2 and Table 2 that the volume ratio of AA/THF equal to 0.2 is the optimum for the synthesis of
poly(THF). In fact, when this later was performed with this ratio, the conversion is higher and the
viscosity is the highest. This result has prompted us to select this ratio to study the effect of the
reaction time, the catalyst amount and the catalyst support on the polymerization.
2.3.2. Effect of reaction time
The result of the reaction time effect is depicted in Figure 3. It can be seen from the figure that the
conversion increases with time up to two hours, then after the conversion remained almost stable with
a conversion about 63%.
Figure 4. Influence of the reaction time on the conversion of THF catalyzed by 0.1 g of
H3PW12O40·13H2O. Reaction conditions: T = 20 ºC; AA/THF (volume ratio) = 0.2.
0.51.0 1.52.0 2.5
Reaction tim e (h)
2.3.3. Effect of amount of catalyst
Figure 4 illustrates the results of the effect of the amount of the catalyst on the polymerization. It
can be seen from this figure that the conversion increases as the amount of H3PW12O40·13H2O
increases. This is probably the result of an increase in the number of initiating active sites responsible
for inducing polymerization, which is proportional to the amount of catalyst used in the reaction. It can
be seen also from this figure that when the amount of the catalyst increases, the conversion increases,
whereas the intrinsic viscosity of the Poly(THF) decreases. In fact, when the amount of catalyst was
varied from 0.025 g to 0.2 g, the conversion increased from 27.4% to 70.1% whereas the intrinsic