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Metal Catalyzed Polymerization: From Stereoregular Poly(α‐olefins) to Tailor‐Made Biodegradable/Biorenewable Polymers and Copolymers

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Homogeneous catalysis plays an important role in a variety of polymerization processes. This review covers the contributions of the research units of CIRCC in the last decade, involving studies of catalysts for the polymerization of olefins, styrene and dienes, the copolymerization of ethylene with acrylates, the ring opening polymerization of cyclic esters, the copolymerization of epoxides with CO2 or organic anhydrides, the ring opening metathesis polymerization.


Abstract

Metal catalyzed polymerizations are among the most important chemical reactions, accounting for the production of about 400 million tons per year of polymeric materials, 50 % of which are polyolefins. The CIRCC research units at the University of Salerno, founded by the late Professor Adolfo Zambelli, a coworker of Giulio Natta and a pioneer in the studies of stereospecific polymerization catalysts, has a consolidated expertise in this field. Although often considered a “mature” area of research, olefin polymerization catalysis continues to drive great interest of both industrial and academic scientists. On the other hand, strong political and economic pressure toward the development of “green” and possibly biodegradable alternatives to olefin-based polymers stimulated our group to direct increasing research efforts in the area of sustainable polymers. In this perspective, we focus on the most recent work from the CIRCC research units involved in homogeneous catalysis for polymerization of a variety of monomers, with the aim to address how the concepts and the expertise developed for olefin polymerization can be applied to the development of different metal-catalyzed polymerizations and copolymerizations. Of course, although the results are discussed in the frame of the most important literature contributions, a comprehensive review of such a wide and diversified topic is out of the scope of the paper. References to reviews covering the different types of metal catalyzed polymerizations are provided in each chapter.

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