Highly branched polyethylene oligomers via group IV-catalysed polymerization in very nonpolar media

Yanshan Gao, Jiazhen Chen, Yang Wang, David B. Pickens, Alessandro Motta, Q. Jane Wang, Yip Wah Chung, Tracy L. Lohr, Tobin J Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Early transition metal catalysts produce high-density and linear low-density polyethylenes with spectacular efficiency. Nevertheless, these catalysts are ineffective in producing low-density polyethylene homopolymers with large –(CH 2 ) x CH 3 branch densities (x ≥ 5) or low-molecular-mass (M n < 1,200 g mol −1 ) highly branched polyethylenes (HBPEs). The latter are potential alternative synthetic lubricants that have eluded efficient catalytic synthesis. Here we report the synthesis of low-M n HBPEs with 61–93 branches per 1,000 carbon atoms from abundant ethylene as the primary feedstock using a soluble, highly active ion-paired organozirconium catalyst in a saturated hydrocarbon solvent. The unprecedented activity and branch selectivity reflect previously unrecognized aspects of the cationic catalyst–counteranion pairing in nonpolar media and are characterized spectroscopically and quantum mechanically. The HBPE products are rheologically and tribologically attractive candidates for synthetic lubricants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Catalysis
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019

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Polyethylenes
Polyethylene
Oligomers
Polymerization
Synthetic lubricants
Lubricants
Catalysts
Linear low density polyethylenes
Molecular mass
Low density polyethylenes
Hydrocarbons
Homopolymerization
Feedstocks
Transition metals
Ethylene
Carbon
Metals
Ions
Atoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Process Chemistry and Technology

Cite this

Highly branched polyethylene oligomers via group IV-catalysed polymerization in very nonpolar media. / Gao, Yanshan; Chen, Jiazhen; Wang, Yang; Pickens, David B.; Motta, Alessandro; Wang, Q. Jane; Chung, Yip Wah; Lohr, Tracy L.; Marks, Tobin J.

In: Nature Catalysis, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gao, Yanshan ; Chen, Jiazhen ; Wang, Yang ; Pickens, David B. ; Motta, Alessandro ; Wang, Q. Jane ; Chung, Yip Wah ; Lohr, Tracy L. ; Marks, Tobin J. / Highly branched polyethylene oligomers via group IV-catalysed polymerization in very nonpolar media. In: Nature Catalysis. 2019.
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