Bio-based unsaturated polyester resins derived from itaconic acid can be an alternative to established resins of this type in the field of radical-curing resins. However, one of the challenges of these polyester itaconates is the somewhat more elaborate synthetic process, especially under polycondensation conditions used on an industrial scale. The α,β-unsaturated double bond of the itaconic acid is prone to side reactions that can lead to the gelation of the polyester resin under standard conditions. This is especially true when bio-based diols such as 1,3-propanediol or 1,4-butanediol are used to obtain resins that are 100% derived from renewable resources. It was observed in earlier studies that high amounts of these aliphatic diols in the polyester lead to low conversion and gelation of the resins. In this work, a catalytic study using different diols was performed in order to elucidate the reasons for this behavior. It was shown that the choice of catalyst has a crucial influence on the side reactions occurring during the polycondensation reactions. In addition, the side reactions taking place were identified and suppressed. These results will allow for the synthesis of polyester itaconates on a larger scale, setting the stage for their industrial application.
Polymers 2017, 9(12), 693