Date of Award

Fall 2008

Project Type


Program or Major

Materials Science

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Yvon Durant


Previously, itaconic acid (IA) was known to be at best a difficult monomer to be polymerized. Here we report effective conditions for an easy polymerization of itaconic acid to high conversion and high molecular weight. tert-Butyl Hydroperoxide (tBHP) was used as an efficient initiator for solution polymerization of IA. Conversions higher than 90% can be reached in less than 1hr. Molecular weights of poly(itaconic acid) have been analyzed in GPC. The structure of PIA was studied by 1H-NMR, 13C-NMR. The initiator concentration dependence and monomer concentration effect have been investigated.

Based on the polymerization process of itaconic acid, a simple process to prepare biodegradable non-starch superabsorbents from renewable resource was developed. The hydrogel was prepared by free-radical polymerization of half neutralized itaconic acid in aqueous solution using tetra(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (tEGDA) as crosslinker. Biodegradation of polyitaconic acid and polyitaconic superabsorbent were studied by Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) measurement.