Continuous dimethyldioxirane generation for polymer epoxidation†
Post-polymerization modification of commodity polymers yields new applications for materials already produced industrially. Incorporation of small amounts of epoxides into unsaturated polymers such as polybutadiene expands their use for grafting and compatibilization applications, but controlled epoxidation of these polymers in a safe, scalable manner presents a challenge. Herein we describe the development of a reactor for the continuous flow generation and use of dimethyldioxirane (DMDO) and its application to the low-level epoxidation of unsaturated polymers. A continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) prevents reactor clogging by allowing solid precipitates to settle, enabling the pumping of a homogeneous solution of oxidant. Modification of relative concentrations, flow rates, and temperatures achieves variable epoxidation levels. This method has been demonstrated on gram scale.