NSF: Molecular Engineering of Polymers for Processing Performance and Properties

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


To design the molecular architecture of polymer chains for desired processing performance, a highly interdisciplinary effort will be required which incorporates experts in experimental and theoretical rheology, polymer processing, polymerization kinetics and catalysts, and polymer synthesis and characterization (this expertise cannot be found in any one location). Scientists from two U.S. universities (with expertise in non-linear rheology, polymer processing and anionic synthesis) will join forces with scientists from seven English universites and one from Holland to attack this problem. The research effort will capitalize on the Leeds-based Microscale Polymer Processing (MuPP) consortium with main contributions from Leeds (molecular rheology, reaction kinetics), Durham (anionic chemistry). The group at Imperial College, London is joining this co-operative programme with expertise in polymerization catalyst development for tailored molecular structure. The approach is to use model systems to establish a rheological standard by which to identify the structures present in commercially produced PE's and then develop correlations between polymerization kinetics, molecular architecture and processing performance.
Description We have developed tools which can predict the flow properties of plastics based on their molecular structure. This permits design of plastic materials which can be formed into products more efficiently, cheaply, and robustly.
Exploitation Route Chemical companies are using the software to help their research in designing new plastic and rubber materials.
Sectors Chemicals

Description Emerging from this award, and related grants, we developed know-how and a software tool for predicting the flow behaviour of industrial polymer resins on the basis of their branched molecular structure. Numerous chemical companies are now using our software to help with their research activities in designing new polymer resins, and in reactor design.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Chemicals
Impact Types Economic

Description University of Tennessee 
Organisation University of Tennessee
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
Start Year 2007
Description Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State U 
Organisation Virginia Polytechnique Institute and State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
Start Year 2007
Title BoB rheology 
Description This predicts linear and non-linear rheology of branched polymer resins 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2007 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact This is becoming widely used in chemical company research departments to predict rheology of their polymer resins. It has led to several consultancy agreements, and also to significant ongoing research funding from a chemical company. 
URL http://sourceforge.net/projects/bob-rheology/