The development and ultimately commercialisation of a new industrial process for sustainable polymer manufacturing

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering

Abstract

Whilst still focussing primarily (but not exclusively) on polycondensation reactions this project will aim to understand the scalability of microwave assisted polymerisation reactions for the synthesis of polymeric materials for applications in the Performance Coatings industry. This could include the exploration of polycondensation reactions in a solvent free environment (i.e. a fusion process) in-line with the focus of a previous studentship and the IAA project within this group. Additionally this project is likely to include the exploration of azeotropic polycondensation processes assisted via a suitable solvent. This will include exploration into the synthesis of 'Target Materials'; polyester, polyamide, polyesteramide, polyurethane and alkyd materials, via either or both of these processes.

One of the significant challenges of bulk processing of condensation polymers is monitoring of reaction progress and conversion of functional groups. The student will also explore techniques for in-line monitoring of reaction process, via techniques such as in-line dielectric monitoring.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512321/1 01/10/2017 18/04/2022
2202279 Studentship EP/R512321/1 01/10/2017 30/12/2021 Jessica Alejandra Vidales Herrera
 
Description The aim of the project is to understand the scalability of microwave assisted polymerisation reactions for the synthesis of polymeric materials with applications in the Performance Coatings sector. Polycondensation reactions have been used for the basis for this study due to reported improvements in reaction performance including higher conversion and decreased reaction times, among others. An alkyd polymer was selected for this study because of its significance in the paint and coatings sector.

The comparison between conventional and microwave heating methods is on small (gram-scale) and large (multi-kilo scale) synthesis has identified potential mechanistic differences on polymer system reactivity which potentially could further inform the design and scale up of my microwave processes for alkyd polymer synthesis. The selected alkyd polymer system has been synthetized successfully in small scale utilising conventional and microwave heating methods. The produced resin presented identical chemical structure analysed using NMR and GPC. Reaction time has not been improved by microwave processing at this scale, nevertheless this is considered to be due to scale related thermal losses and that overall conversion is dominated by azeotropic distillation of water of condensation.

These key findings will further be supported by large-scale experiments. (5L scale) the chosen resin has been successfully sythetized in both conventional and microwave processing methods. Further work is planned to finish optimising processing and comparing possible processing methods.
Exploitation Route The most important outcome of the project has been the successful synthesis of alkyd polymer resins utilising microwave processing. Even though the project is still active and looking in comparing processing advantages between conventional and microwave heated methods, it would be of great interest to a wide range of industry sectors producing their own polymer materials.

The possibility of reduced reaction times implies an important amount of energy and time reduction, resulting in potential economic advantages.
This could also have a positive impact in academic research as it could accelerate the production and testing of new polymeric materials.
Sectors Chemicals,Creative Economy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description The development and ultimately commercialisation of a new industrial process for sustainable polymer manufacturing 
Organisation AkzoNobel
Department AkzoNobel UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We are conducting the PhD research
Collaborator Contribution They are the industrial sponsors and are providing help with the formulation of the feed materials and scale up
Impact The aim of the project is to understand the scalibility of microwave assisted polymerisation reactions for the synthesis of polymeric materials with applications in the Performance Coatings sector. Polycondensation reactions have been used for the basis of this study due to reported improvements in reaction performance including higher conversion and decreased reaction times among others. An alkyd polymer was selected for this study because of its significance in the paint and coatings sector. The comparison between conventional and microwave heating methods on small (gram-scale) and large (multi-kilo scale) synthesis is of high interest as it will allow to asses the reported benefits of microwave processing as well as the further discussion and considerations as an advantageous technique. Experiments have identified potential mechanistic differences on polymer system reactivity which potentially could further inform the design and scale up of microwave processes for alkyd polymer synthesis. The selected alkyd polymer system has been synthetized successfully in small scale utilising conventional and microwave heating methods. The produced resin presented identical chemical structure analysed using NMR and GPC. Reaction time has not been improved by microwave processing at this scale, nevertheless this is considered to be due to scale related thermal losses and that overall conversion is dominated by azeotropic distillation of water condensation. These key findings wil further be supported by large-scale experiments (5L). The chosen resin has been successfully synthetized in both conventional and microwave processing methods. Further work is planned to finish optimising processing and comparing possible processing methods.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Participation Research Showcase - Faculty of Engineering University of Nottingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I presented my research project (Background, Key findings, Future work) in a three minute thesis exercise (Video) to my research group (Advanced Materials Research Group) and got selected to represent the group in the "Faculty of Engineering Virtual Showcase 2020" Where selected students of every research group of the Faculty present their projects. The event was broadcasted to the whole faculty with the aim of showcase the wide range research that is undertaken within the faculty.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Research presentation - Advanced Materials Research Group University of Nottingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Research presentation given to the wider research group community (Advanced materials research group University of Nottingham) as part of online research seminars. More than 30 attendees (Postgraduate research students, Post docs and Professors) participated in the event. The purpose of the talk was to introduce the background and a key findings found so far during the project to a scientific non expert public. AT the end of the presentation public engaged with very interesting questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020