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Polyvinyl alcohol


Modified Poly(vinyl alcohol): a New Modification, Study of Crystal Solutions and Films to be Used in the Preparation of Liquid Crystal Films, Biodegradable Films and Membranes

Tech Area / Field

  • CHE-POL/Polymer Chemistry/Chemistry
  • BIO-IND/Industrial Biotechnology/Biotechnology
  • CHE-IND/Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Process Engineering/Chemistry

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Yerevan Institute "Plastpolymer", Armenia, Yerevan


  • University of Southern Mississippi / Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, USA, MS, Hattiesburg\nImperial College London / Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology, UK, London\n[Individual specialist]\nGerman Institute of Polymers, Germany, Darmstadt\nVirginia Commonwealth University / High Technology Materials Center, USA, VA, Richmond\nCarnegie Mellon University / Department of Chemistry, USA, PA, Pittsburgh\nUniversitat Duisburg-Essen, Germany, Essen

Project summary

Among the widely known industrial water-soluble polymers, poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVAL) is one of the most important. It is the focus of many synthetic materials investigators as well as users in many different applications. Due to availability of hydroxyl groups PVAL by many innate properties are similar to natural polymers, in particular polysaccharides such as starch which is known to be one of the more significant biopolymers.
Another distinctive feature of this polymer is that it is easily modified to produce a variety of unique and useful products with a wide variation in properties. It is this unique property that makes the possibility of applying PVAL in very persified industries such as textiles, agricultural, electronics and medicine.
Currently, there are a variety of the industrial grades of PVAL based on the number of acetate and hydroxyl functional groups and their distribution along the polymer chain. These and other characteristics of macromolecule chain (such as, the polymerization degree, hydrolysis degree, distribution of the functional groups, the degree of crystallinity and the degree of chain branching) provide the opportunity to synthesis PVAL with even wider ranges of properties with new utilizations in many fields. However, progress in science and technology, as well as the proliferation of new materials and techniques make strong demands on the known commodity polymers such as PVAL.

One way to expand the properties of PVAL is through polymerization the vinyl acetate monomer with other vinyl monomers to elicit new valuable polymer properties. It is evident that the introduction of addition functional groups in a macromolecule chain would provide new polymer constructs with numerous potential variations in the resultant material characteristics that could eventually lead to composite materials for special applications. This approach was carried out by the participants in this project within the framework of the previous study ISTC Project A - 183 (completed in 2003)

The objective of these studies was to modify PVAL with different carboxyl comonomers. Some of the carboxyl containing comonomers were unsaturated carboxylic acids (UCA), such as, acrylic acid (AA), crotonic acid (CA), methacrylic acid (MAC), and derivatives of maleic acid.

The main results obtained:
1. The technology for the production of modified poly(vinyl alcohol) (MPVAL) was enhanced and the influence of UCA comonomers on the physical characteristics and properties of MPVAL in solutions and films were determined.
2. The toxicity evaluations showed that the interdependency of the copolymers physical characteristics and their toxicological properties need to be examined in more detail. It is especially important in the context of applying of MPVAL in medicine as a drug delivery system.
3. The results of fungi inertness tests illustrated the possibility of regulating the biodegradation of products from MPVAL by modifying the carboxyl containing comonomer.
4. It was shown that, during synthesis, the copolymers have similar structural characteristics but different physical properties could be formed (analysis of polymers were conducted according to existing standards)
This means, that the techniques used for the PVAL copolymers investigated were not sufficient to determine their full performance capability, as synthesis of copolymers with the reproducible characteristics and properties becomes complicated.
A brief review of the latest publications illustrates the new fields that could benefit from extended studies of PVAL applications and properties.
· Biodegraded composites and film obtained from PVAL, copolymers of PVAL as well as mixtures of PVAL with other polymers or copolymers.
· Studies of medical applications of PVAL as antimicrobial films and as drugs delivery systems will be expanded.
· Special attention will be made to develop liquid -crystal films since PVAL basically used in most in liquid -crystal displays.
New methods of analyses for polymers obtained will be developed using the new MALDI (Matrix- Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization), size exclusion chromatography (SEC) and spectroscopy techniques that would allow a more complete study of the macromolecules synthesized and to link the data obtained to physical properties. In addition to
using these methods, recently emerged FTIR spectroscopic imaging for studying aqueous solutions can lead to new levels of understanding of the different associations and liquid crystal phases that exist in solution.
The results of the previous Project and the data in current publications demonstrate an urgency for the pursuit of the proposed Research Project.
The scientific novelty of this Project is the development of new and unique liquid crystal PVAL materials based on the extraordinary results of the previous project and the development of new liquid crystal films, new biodegradable films as well as new membranes for medical and industrial application.
Tasks of the Project:
· Synthesis of the new modified poly(vinyl alcohol) biopolymers (PVALs) as protein-like materials.
· Develop the technology for mass production of PVALs.
· Study the structural formations of the new modified PVALs (such as, globular, helical and liquid crystal phase).
· Examine the PVALs aggregates formed and their influence on the physical characteristics and properties of these new materials and films.
Objective of the Project is to thoroughly investigate the liquid crystal materials obtained from the synthesis of new and unique poly(vinyl alcohol) copolymers and intensively develop their applications as liquid crystal films, biodegradable films as well as membranes for medicine and industry.
The Project will achieve the follow results:
· the synthesis and study of MPVAL modified with complexes of anion- and cation -containing comonomers
· the determination of the effect of different initiator systems (radical, ATRP, chelate) on kinetics, characteristics and properties of MPVAL copolymers.
· the determination of copolymers characteristics by means of the new analytical techniques.
· the determination of the structural formations in aqueous solutions of copolymers (helix, liquid crystal phase)
· the determination of the effects of high-molecular ordering in solutions on properties of MPVAL products and applications (films for different assignments, protective colloids in dispersions.etc.).
1. the development of technological processes for MPVAL production
2. the development of the new materials for use as:
· Water soluble vinyl alcohol copolymers films for industrial and medicinal membranes.
· Polarizing films for liquid crystal displays
· Water soluble biodegradable copolymers and film for industrial, agricultural and medicinal applications.
· The development of an assortment of industrial and agricultural biodegradable materials.
The scientific results of the Project will provide potential technology transfer for commercial applications
Since the earlier stage of works the marketing to realize the above-stated products will be conducted.

The fundamental science generated by the Project will constitute the basis for polymer scientists "to design» macromolecules similar to natural biopolymers and provide solutions to many problems at the interface between chemistry, materials science, biology.

Meeting ISTC Goals and Objectives

· The Project will allow scientists that were earlier engaged weapons development, to carry out scientific research for peaceful purposes.

· The scope and the level of the proposed research require an international cooperation of scientists (first involving collaborators) and laboratories conducting similar studies.
· The research in the field of synthesis and physical properties of films made from MPVAL as biodegradable materials and membranes for fuel cells will be contributions to the field of an environmental protection and energy production.
· The marketing studies at the very beginning of the Project will be an evaluation for the potential of proposed "products" from the point of view of the market acceptability. For each product, a niche will be identified and appropriate steps will be taken towards commercialization.
Scope of Activities
General scope of activities:
· Synthesis of the new modification of poly(vinyl alcohol) and development of processing technology
· Study of copolymers characteristics and properties.
· Study of MPVAL structural formations in solutions: kinetics of aggregate formation and their nature.
· Study of MPVAL films:
- physico-mechanical properties and optical properties
- membrane properties
- biodegradation
Role of Foreign Collaborators/Partners
· Examination of copolymer physical characteristics with advanced methods by collaborators.
· Corroboration of copolymer properties data.
· Exchanging scientific results, joint discussion, joint publications
Technical Approach and Methodology
· Copolymers will be synthesized with different comonomers using special initiators and reaction conditions.
· Copolymers will be characterized by analytical, chemical methods and advanced spectroscopy techniques.
· Copolymer solutions and films will be studied by optical methods, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and TGA.

The physical-mechanical properties of films such as, polarizability, pore sizes, permeability to gases and solution and bio-degradation will be investigated.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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