• graft copolymers;
  • starch;
  • pregel;
  • copolymerization;
  • surface sizing;
  • initiators


A graft copolymer was synthesized by graft copolymerization of starch with styrene (St) and butyl acrylate (BA), using ferrous sulfate-hydrogen peroxide redox initiation system. The starch was pregelled in the presence of acrylonitrile (AN) in aqueous alkali at high temperature before graft polymerization. Major factors affecting the polymerization reaction were investigated. It was found that a graft copolymer with higher percentage conversion (PC), graft efficiency (GE) and graft percentage (GP) was obtained by controlling the initiator concentration, concentration, and ratio of monomers and polymerization temperature. The optimum conditions were as follows: H2O2 concentration, 12%; monomer concentration, 120%; St/BA ratio, 1 : 1; polymerization temperature, 65°C. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and NMR analyses were used to gain information on the structure of the products. It was demonstrated that St, BA, and AN had been successfully grafted onto starch and [BOND]CN had been saponified into [BOND]CONH2 and [BOND]COO to a certain degree when pregelling. Scanning electron microscope micrographs showed the coarse structure and broad network. The graft polymerization took place on the surface of starch granule and led to amorphization of the starch structure. Graft polymer had better thermal stability and was endowed with pseudo-plasticity. It was observed that the starch graft copolymer offers good properties such as water resistance as surface-sizing agent. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011