Sulfonation of Clean and Contaminated Polystyrene (Styrofoam)

  • S. Mañalac UP Extension Program in Pampanga University of the Philippines Diliman
  • A. Senador College of Engineering University of the Philippines Diliman
  • Angela Escoto College of Engineering University of the Philippines Diliman


This study investigates the efficiency of the direct method of sulfonation or the addition of sulfuric acid to clean and contaminated polystyrene or Styrofoam and the comparison of the ion exchange capacity of clean and contaminated polystyrene.

The sulfonation process was divided into four sets of experiments. The first part was to determine the correlation between the time of sulfonation and ion exchange capacity. (IEC) of sulfonated polystyrene (SPSusing clean polystyrene; the second part was to test the replicability of the sulfonation process using clean polystyrene; third part was to verify the calculated IEC and sulfonation degree by performing the regeneration process and the last part was the sulfonation of the contaminated polystyrene.

Experimental result from the sulfonation process yielded an average EIC value of 10.3+5.05x1¯⁴ mol/gSPS for clean SPS as compared to 15.0+ 7.61 x10¯⁴ mol/gSPS for contaminated SPS, and the degree of sulfonation, calculated as percent sulfonation has an average value of 11.98+6.5% for clean SPS as compared to 18.41+11.44% for contaminated SPS .

These values indicated that the method of sulfonation employed was able to introduce sulfonate groups both for the clean and contaminated polystyrene with apparent greater effectivity for the contaminated polystyrene.