Aliphatic Polycarbonates Produced from the Coupling of Carbon Dioxide and Oxetanes and Their Depolymerization via Cyclic Carbonate Formation
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The (salen)CrCl/onium salt catalyzed coupling reactions of several oxetane derivatives and carbon dioxide are reported. The oxetanes investigated contain substituents in the 3-position covering a range of steric requirements. The oxetanes examined include, 3,3-dimethyloxetane, 3-methoxymethyl-3-methyloxetane, and 3-benzyloxymethyl-3-methyloxetane. The rates of reaction of these oxetanes with CO2 were found to be significantly slower than the corresponding process with the parent oxetane monomer. Furthermore, in these instances the formation of copolymer was found to proceed via the preformed cycloaddition product, i.e., the six-membered cyclic carbonate, to a greater extent and increasing with the steric bulk of the substituents on oxetane. For these sterically more hindered oxetanes, the CO2 coupling reaction carried out in toluene at 110 C reached an equilibrium product distribution of copolymer to cyclic carbonate which increased in cyclic carbonate product with increasing steric requirements of the oxetane monomer. For example, the catalyzed coupling of the parent oxetane and CO2 provides a copolymer to cyclic carbonate ratio of greater than 95%, whereas the corresponding product distribution for 3-benzyloxymethyl-3-methyloxetane was observed to be 60%. The catalytic rate of depolymerization of a purified sample of the copolymer afforded from 3-benzyloxymethyl-3-methyloxetane and CO2 to the corresponding cyclic carbonate, 5-benzyloxymethyl-5-methyl-1,3-dioxan-2-one, was found to be greatly retarded when carried out in an atmosphere of CO 2. 2011 American Chemical Society.