Derivatives of acrylic acid, also known as acrylates, are salts and esters of acrylic and methacrylic acid. They contain a vinyl group bonded to the carboxyl group. These are polymerizable compounds due to the presence of an active double bond in their structure. They are one of the most popular monomers used in the production of polymer plastics.
How are acrylates prepared?
Acrylates are produced on an industrial scale as a result of the esterification reaction of acrylic acid with the corresponding alcohols. Depending on the substrates involved in the production process, the reaction conditions and catalysts change. For example, the reaction with low alcohols is accomplished with the help of cation exchangers, while the reaction with higher alcohols is catalysed by sulfuric acid. Another method of synthesizing acrylic acid derivative is the transesterification of lower esters using titanium alkoxides or organic tin compounds.
Derivatives of acrylic acid
The simplest polymer of acrylic acid is polyacrylic acid (PAA), which is formed as a homopolymer by free radical polymerization. The structure of this compound ensures the formation of complexes with oppositely charged polymers in aqueous solutions, as well as with surfactants or drug molecules. Popular acrylic acid derivatives are also copolymers of various acrylic acid esters and polyacrylamides.
Acrylic acid derivatives are characterized by excellent solubility in water and compatibility with other polymers containing polar groups in chains (e.g., vinyl acetate). They are highly biodegradable and have exceptionally good dispersing properties.
Applications of acrylic acid derivatives
Due to the varied structure of acrylic acid derivatives, the spectrum of applications of this group of compounds is very wide. In the footwear industry, they are used as ingredients of shoe care pastes, in household chemicals – as anti-moisture preparations, in the paint and varnish industry – as dispersants and suspension stabilizers. They play the role of flocculants and are used in wastewater treatment plants. In addition, PAA and its derivatives are also used in ion exchange resins as well as in the manufacture of disposable diapers and detergents. Their modified, neutralized forms are matrices used in medicine for the production of gels and other skin treatment products.
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