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Pure Appl. Chem., 2009, Vol. 81, No. 12, pp. 2417-2424

Published online 2009-11-29

Study of the sulfonation of expanded polystyrene waste and of properties of the products obtained

Wieslaw W. Sułkowski1*, Krzysztof Nowak1, Anna Sułkowska2, Agnieszka Wolińska1, Wioletta M. Bajdur3, Danuta Pentak1 and Barbara Mikuła4

1 Department of Environmental Chemistry and Technology, Institute of Chemistry, University of Silesia, Szkolna 9, 40-006 Katowice, Poland
2 Department of Physical Pharmacy, Medical University of Silesia, Jagiellońska 4, 41-200 Sosnowiec, Poland
3 Department of Ergonomics and Workplace Safety, Technical University of Częstochova, Armii Krajowej 36B, 42-200 Częstochova, Poland
4 Department of Analytical Chemistry, University of Silesia, Szkolna 9, Katowice, Poland

Abstract: Waste-expanded polystyrene (EPS) and virgin polystyrene (VPS) were converted into ion exchangers by chemical modification. For this purpose, we used silica sulfuric acid as the sulfonating agent and conducted sulfonation under heterogeneous conditions. For VPS, the influence of the quantity of the sulfonating agent, the temperature, and the reaction time on the product properties were studied. As it appeared, silica sulfuric acid simplifies the reaction in comparison with the conventional sulfonation methods. Fourier transform-infrared (FT-IR) spectra and elemental analysis revealed that products were cross-linked and the content of sulfonate groups in a polymer chain varied. Some of the yielded polymers exhibited good water absorption and cation-exchange properties. The ion-exchange capacity (IEC) for chosen products was also determined, and it turned out to be similar to the commercial resin. The batch method was used to study the purification of solutions of Zn2+ and Cu2+ by the obtained resins. The performed study proved the usefulness of waste PS derivatives for the water treatment process.