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Abstract

The ESR spectra of microcrystalline cellulose and purified cotton cellulose reacted with ceric ammonium nitrate in nitric acid were determined. The effects of the concentration of ceric ion, atmosphere, temperature, and graft copolymerization with acrylonitrile on the rates of formation and decay of radicals in the cellulose molecule were determined under both static and dynamic conditions. Under static conditions, after the desired conditions of reaction, the samples were frozen at –100 or –160°C., and then the concentration of free radicals was determined. Under dynamic conditions ceric ion solution was continuously flowed through the celluloses while these determinations were being made at 25°C. In the presence of oxygen the rate of decay of free radicals was decreased. On initiation of copolymerization reactions with acrylonitrile, there was an increase in radical concentration, then a decrease. Apparently, during graft copolymerization the radical site initially on the cellulose molecule was retained on the end of the growing polymer chain. Then additional ceric ion coordinated with the hydroxyl groups of the cellulose, leading to the formation of additional radical sites. An Arrhenius interpretation of the effect of temperature on the formation of these additional radical sites gave apparent activation energies for radical formation on cotton cellulose as 34 kcal./mole and on microcrystalline cellulose as 29 kcal./mole.