Elimination of VOC's in the Synthesis and Application of Polymeric Materials Using Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization

EPA Grant Number: R826735
Title: Elimination of VOC's in the Synthesis and Application of Polymeric Materials Using Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization
Investigators: Matyjaszewski, Krzysztof
Institution: Carnegie Mellon University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 1998 through September 30, 2001
Project Amount: $330,000
RFA: Technology for a Sustainable Environment (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Nanotechnology , Sustainability , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development


Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization (ATRP) is a new method to prepare well-defined polymers and copolymers using controlled radical polymerization. ATRP is based on the transition metal catalysts which transfer reversibly halogen atoms between active and dormant species. The robustness and efficiency of ATRP is attractive for both industry and academia for preparation of polymeric materials with novel properties for new applications.

There are three general objectives for the proposed research. The first one is to design and synthesize new more efficient catalysts. The second one is to extend ATRP to more environmentally friendly media, using either water or bulk monomers (no VOCs). The third one is to prepare new environmentally benign materials such as solventless coatings and recyclable polar thermoplastic elastomers.


The approach to reach the first objective (more efficient catalysts) will include variation of ligands and metals used for ATRP as well as potential immobilization of the catalyst on solid support. Using more reducing catalytic systems should increase their efficiency and reduced their required amount. Immobilization will facilitate recycling and reclamation of the catalyst.

Bulk polymerization have been already successful for many ATRP systems and will be extended to new monomers. Water-borne ATRP systems require careful choice of the catalyst which should be moisture insensitive and also surfactants and stabilizers for heterogeneous systems. An additional challenge is to apply emulsion conditions for the synthesis of block copolymers and end-functional polymers.

Two systems have been chosen as examples of environmentally benign materials. The first one is solventless coatings based on low viscosity hyperbranched and multifunctional acrylic copolymers. The second system comprises recyclable polar thermoplastic elastomers which will be reversibly physically crosslinked via microphase separation rather than by irreversible chemical vulcanization/crosslinking.

Expected Results:

It is anticipated that all three objectives will be reached within the proposed time leading to development of new more efficient catalysts which can be applied to water-borne media and allow the synthesis of new environmentally benign materials. We anticipate that all of these achievements will be subsequently used in academia and industry, benefiting the environment.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 48 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 14 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

water, bulk, VOC, heavy metals, solvents, recycling, polymer chemistry., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, atom transfer radical polymerization, cleaner production, environmentally benign solvents, alternative materials, catalysts, chemical reaction systems, solvent substitute, pollution prevention, polymer design, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), alternative chemical synthesis, environmentally-friendly chemical synthesis, green chemistry

Relevant Websites:

http://polymer.chem.cmu.edu/ Exit EPA icon

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999 Progress Report
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • Final Report