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  Chris Dobie

Postgraduate Student
 
       
 

Intensified Technologies for Photo-polymerisation Processes: Application to Bulk Co-polymerisation and Emulsifier–free Emulsion Polymerisation Systems

 

At present, the most common mode of production for homopolymers/copolymers is by batch, using conventional thermal initiators. The typical techniques employed to perform such polymerisations are solution, emulsion and suspension. Solvents, surfactants and suspension stabilisers are necessary components in each of these systems, respectively. The addition of each of these components brings inherent disadvantages. They are difficult to remove from the final product, thus, compromising product quality. Moreover, (especially relevant in the case of the solvent) the detrimental environmental impact that they can cause is very significant. This project may, in effect, be separated into two smaller ‘sub-projects’.

 

The first of these ‘sub-projects’ will consider bulk photo-copolymerisation. Bulk polymerisation is an ideal solution to the problems described in the first paragraph, in that there is only the initiator and the monomer/s present in the system – no other products that could tarnish the final polymer product or cause unnecessary harm to the environment. Additionally, the use of UV light to initiate the reaction can bring further benefits. However, with conventional reactor technologies such as stirred tank vessels, bulk polymerisation presents a number of problems during the course of the polymerisation reaction such as inadequate heat transfer rates, inability to cope with highly viscous media and severe diffusion limitation in such media. Moreover, photo-initiation is highly inefficient using the typical reactor geometries. In this project, we propose to investigate the applicability of a spinning disc reactor as an intensified reactor system to bulk photo-copolymerisation systems in an attempt to reduce or eliminate these problems.

 

The second of the two ‘sub-projects’ in question considers the application of spinning disc reactor technology to surfactant-free photo-initiated emulsion polymerisation and copolymerisation. The fact that water-soluble photo-initiators will be used in order to stabilise the latex particles as opposed to surfactants makes this process route more environmentally benign as well as helping to reduce the costs of downstream processing/units required for surfactant removal. 

 

For more information please contact Dr Kamelia Boodhoo

 

 

 

 Last modified: 02-Jun-2017