Catalytic Studies of the Production of Biodegradable Polymeric Materials From Carbon Dioxide and Renewable Resources
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The Chemical Catalysis Program in the Chemistry Division at the National Science Foundation supports Professor Donald Darensbourg of Texas A & M University, for the development of new catalysts for the copolymerization of carbon dioxide and oxiranes/oxetanes. The goals of this research are to use mechanistic and kinetic measurements to optimize catalyst structure, and to assess the potential of the resulting copolymers as biodegradable materials. This important class of catalyst and the copolymers themselves are important in terms of renewable chemical resources and for their proposed use as biodegradable materials. Broader impacts of the research include the Darensbourg group developing catalytic reactions that can take one of the by-products of fossil fuel combustion, CO2, and use it in reactions to produce new materials. By using only catalytic amounts of compound in these reactions, an "atom economical approach" will be realized. Furthermore, the resulting compounds are likely to be biodegradable, with potential applications in medicine and physiology. The PI''s laboratory has developed a national reputation for integrating research with undergraduate education through an REU program.