On the mechanism of the polymerization of ε-caprolactam†. IV. Polymerization in the presence of water and either an amine or a carboxylic acid

D. Heikens, P.H. Hermans, G.M. Want, van der

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    Abstract

    In continuation of previous kinetic work on the hydrolytic polymerization of ecaprolactam (CL) (Part I–III) in which evidence was obtained that all the predominant reactions are catalyzed by endgroups, special experiments were undertaken in order to study the specific role played by the NH2 and COOH endgroups. To that end kinetic runs at 221°C. were performed with Cl-water systems (containing 5–7 mole-% of water) in which the symmetry of the concentrations of NH2 and COOH groups was disturbed by the addition of about 1 mole-% of either an amine or a carboxylic acid [hexamethylenediamine (HMD), adipic acid (ADA), and sebacic acid (SBA) were used]. The concentrations of unconverted lactam and of amino and carboxyl groups were determined as previously described; special techniques were worked out for the determination of the small concentrations of unconverted HMD, ADA, and SBA. The main observations are: (1) added HMD disappears much more rapidly from the reaction mixture than added ADA or SBA; (2) the dicarboxylic acids have considerable accelerating effect on the formation of endgroups. Only a general qualitative discussion of these results is given. The principal deductions may be summarized as follows. (a) The initial reaction of the polymerization process, the hydrolysis of CL, is found to be catalyzed by COOH groups. (b) The main contribution to the increase in chain length is furnished by the addition of CL to NH2 endgroups exclusively (aminolysis of the lactam molecule). (c) This addition reaction is catalyzed by COOH groups. (d) Probably, the polycondensation reaction of NH2 and COOH groups is also catalyzed by COOH groups.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)437-448
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Polymer Science
    Volume44
    Issue number144
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1960

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