Studies of the polymerization of methacrylic acid via free-radical retrograde precipitation polymerization process

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In this paper, we present some new results of our work in a novel polymerization process (called the free-radical retrograde precipitation polymerization, or FRRPP, process) that occurs at temperatures above the lower critical solution temperature. Our polymerization experiments basically involve the methacrylic acid-poly(methacrylic acid)-water system. Experimental results indicate a gradual increase in conversion with time after what seemingly is the onset of phase separation. In an equivalent solution polymerization system, conversion of methacrylic acid reaches almost 100% at a much shorter time than in the FRRPP system. Molecular weights of poly(methacrylic acid) at different times for the FRRPP system are not dramatically different from those obtained in the solution system. However, the FRRPP system yields a relatively narrow molecular weight distribution at a wide range of conversion compared to that obtained in the equivalent solution system. The unique characteristics of the FRRPP process is shown in the asymptotic time behavior of the free-radical concentration compared to the decay behavior in other polymerization systems. © 1996 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Journal of Applied Polymer Science