Published July 1992
Because carbon monoxide and ethylene are readily available at relatively low costs, carbon monoxide-ethylene copolymers are of interest to many companies. In this review, we limit our scope to (a) high molecular weight copolymers containing about a 1:1 molar ratio of the two monomers and having a linear alternating molecular structure, and (b) some of the more recent work reported by Shell. Although many patents have been issued on the preparation of these copolymers, especially to Shell, none had been commercialized as of May 1992. Very little information, however, has been published on their properties and applications except their relatively high melting points (210-270C) and insolubility in water.
From patent information, we have prepared a preliminary design of a conceptual process for the continuous production of these linear alternating carbon monoxide-ethylene copolymers and evaluated the process economics of a 33 million lb/yr (15,000 t/yr) plant.
Although this preliminary study indicates that carbon monoxide-ethylene copolymers can probably be produced at a cost competitive to some commercial polymers, two possible deterrences to their commercialization at present (May 1992) are (1) some unknown property deficiencies such as in resin and(or) resin melt stability, ease of processability, and the physical and chemical properties of the finished end-products that must be overcome and (2) the relatively high capital cost.