PerspectivePOLYMER SYNTHESIS

Making Polymers from Carbon Dioxide

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Science  12 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5404, pp. 946-947
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5404.946

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Summary

Industrial processes that use carbon dioxide as a raw material sound attractive: COis abundant, cheap, and environmentally benign. Besides, nature uses it every day for making polymers. However, to date, polymerization schemes that use COhave suffered from catalysts that are not sufficiently efficient to be economical and products that cannot compete with existing ones on grounds of their properties. Although recent progress has led to higher catalyst activities, a commercially viable product is still missing. Clues may come from comparison with carbon monoxide, CO, which has been used as a monomer in commercially viable polymerization reactions. This and other considerations may lead to the development of commercially produced polymer products based on COchemistry in the foreseeable future.