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Sustainable polymers experiment for organic labs developed

Professor Jane Wissinger's work on green synthesis and sustainable polymers in organic chemistry laboratories has been published in the Journal of Chemical Education. In addition to Wissinger, authors are Tomohiro Kubo and Deborah K. Schneiderman from the Department of Chemistry, Mark T. Martello from the departments of Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, and Chad Gilmer and Michael T. Wentzel from the Department of Chemistry at Augsburg College.

The article highlights the development of a new experiment focused on green synthesis and sustainable polymers for use in organic chemistry laboratory curriculum.

According to the abstract: "The importance of green syntheses and sustainable polymers is highlighted in a new experiment developed for incorporation into the introductory organic chemistry laboratory curriculum. δ-Decalactone, a naturally occurring cyclic ester used by the food and flavor industry for its coconut fragrance and taste, is polymerized under acidic conditions with a diol initiator. The solvent-free, room-temperature reaction conditions result in a viscous homopolymer from which the catalyst is easily removed. Subsequent chain extension of this homopolymer with the renewable monomer l-lactide, followed by purification, isolation, and annealing in an aluminum pan, affords a block copolymer product as a transparent, flexible film. Well-resolved resonances in the 1H NMR spectrum of the individual polymer repeat units facilitate quantitative analysis of polymer composition and molecular weight determination. This experiment introduces students to structures and fundamental concepts of polymer chemistry and exemplifies modern advances in sustainable materials."