Model based evaluation of the industrial potential of controlled radical polymerization

01 January 2014 → 31 December 2016
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Process engineering
    • Polymeric materials
radical polymerization polymerisation reaction engineering
Project description

Recent research has indicated that controlled radical polymerization (CRP) allows to synthesize well-defined complex macromolecular architectures, which cannot be obtained by conventional free radical polymerization. In CRP, a mediating is present which allows a temporarily deactivation of growing macroradicals. Under controlled conditions, a polymer is obtained containing a high end-group functionality and a low dispersity. New envisaged applications are in the area of coatings, medicine, electronics, bioconjugation, labeling, etc.
Despite the high potential of CRP its industrial application has been hampered since currently the maximal average chain length which can be reached is too low and/or for high average chain lengths the polymerization is too slow. Furthermore, for a given application, it is not clear what the optimal mediating agent and polymerization method (e.g. bulk/suspension/(mini)emulsion) are for the production of CRP products at industrial scale.
In this research project, a kinetic model is therefore developed allowing (i) to screen in a fast and efficient way the optimal mediating agent for a targeted polymer microstructure at laboratory scale and (ii) to provide for this optimal mediating agent the most appropriate polymerization method to obtain at industrial scal ethe same targeted polymer microstructure under industrially relevant polymerization conditions. The model parameters are tuned based on an intensive validation with experimental data.