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Emulsion polymerization of hydrophobic monomers such as Heptadecyl Acrylate C17A

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000247314D
Publication Date: 2016-Aug-22
Document File: 3 page(s) / 22K

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Abstract

Addition of a water miscible organic additive such as isopropanol enables successful aqueous emulsion polymerization of hydrophobic monomers such as the BASF product Heptadecyl Acrylate C17A. The method is facile, inexpensive, scalable and leads to high conversion. The additive can be e.g. removed by distillation.

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Authors: Friederike Fleischhaker, Christoph Fleckenstein, Andrea Misske, Tobias Petsch, Torsten Dreyer, BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany

Emulsion polymerization of hydrophobic monomers such as Heptadecyl Acrylate C17A

Abstract:

Addition of a water miscible organic additive such as isopropanol enables successful aqueous emulsion polymerization of hydrophobic monomers such as the BASF product Heptadecyl Acrylate C17A. The method is facile, inexpensive, scalable and leads to high conversion. The additive can be e.g. removed by distillation.

Alkyl acrylates and methacrylates ((meth)acrylates) with long hydrophobic alkyl ester chains - like the BASF product Heptadecyl Acrylate C17A with branched C17 ester chain - can be excellently polymerized in solution or in bulk. Classical aqueous emulsion polymerization, however, is not an easily feasible method to prepare colloidal polymer dispersions from these monomer types. The hydrophobic nature of the monomers hinders monomer transfer from the monomer droplets through the water phase into the micelles where the polymerization takes place. Especially homopolymerization of long chain alkyl (meth)acrylates leads to very low yield and coagulate. Also copolymerization is challenging and requires small amounts of hydrophobic monomer combined with less hydrophobic comonomer(s) as reaction partner.1)-4)

For many applications such as adhesives, coatings, binders, lubricants or impact modifiers classical emulsion polymerization with long chain alkyl acrylates would be very desirable. Especially Heptadecyl Acrylate C17A is an interesting candidate due to its beneficial physico- chemical properties, such as ultra-low polymer glass transition temperature, high hydrolytic stability, low vapor pressure (odorlessness) and good mechanical resistance.5)-7)

With suspension polymerization or miniemulsion techniques the preparation of polymer dispersions from hydrophobic monomers is possible. Here, polymerization takes place in the monomer droplets and no monomer diffusion through the water phase is required. Nevertheless, we have to keep in mind that resulting particles sizes and distribution vary significantly from classical emulsion polymerization. Also technical upscale of miniemulsion polymerization is challenging. As a matter of fact, these techniques are not always suitable alternatives to classical emulsion polymerization.8)-9)

With respect to classical emulsion polymerization it has been found that monomer complexing phase transfer agents like cyclodextrines successfully "shuttle" long chain alkyl acrylates through the water phase.3)-4) Costs of phase transfer agent and remaining phase transfer agent in the polymer dispersion, however, can be non-negligible disadvantages.

Here, we present a facile, inexpensive and scalable method that allows polymerization of hydrophobic monomers such as long alkyl ester (meth)acrylates in aqueous emulsion polymerization.

We have found that addition of a water miscible o...