Macromolecular rapid communications

Continuous controlled radical polymerization of methyl acrylate in a copper tubular reactor.

PMID 21438060


The use of copper tubing as both the reactor and as a catalyst source is demonstrated for continuous controlled radical polymerization of methyl acrylate at ambient temperature and at low solvent content of 30%. The high surface area provided by the copper walls mediates the reaction via the single electron transfer-living radical polymerization (SET-LRP) mechanism. The polymerizations proceeded quickly, reaching 67% conversion at a residence time of 16 min. Ligand concentration could also be reduced without a sharp drop in polymerization rate, demonstrating the potential for decreased raw material and post-process purification costs. Chain extension experiments conducted using synthesized polymer showed high livingness. The combination of living polymer produced at high polymerization rates at ambient temperature and low volatile organic solvent content demonstrate the potential of a copper reactor for scale up of SET-LRP.