What is polymerization and polymer synthesis?
Polymerization chemistry is the process of reacting monomer molecules together in a chemical reaction to form polymer chains or three-dimensional networks. There are many forms of polymerization and different systems exist to categorize them.
Challenges faced by polymerization chemists
Polymer synthesis is a complex procedure that can take place in a variety of ways. The main challenge faced by polymerization chemists is to achieve the desired polymer size and polydispersity. In order to achieve this, it is important to understand the polymerization reaction, study practical ways for controlling the reaction, and to select the right chemical reactor for the chemistry.
Conducting polymerization chemistry with traditional batch techniques
Polymerization chemistry has traditionally been performed using traditional batch chemistry methods in jacketed reactors. The wide availability of jacketed reactors, their simplicity, and the high level of control they can offer have made them a popular choice for many polymerization chemists.
Automated jacketed chemical reactors offer excellent control over polymerization reaction parameters, such as temperature, pressure, mixing, concentrations, and reaction times. This advanced control enables chemists to reduce the polydispersity of their reactions and achieve batch to batch reproducible results.
Automated jacketed reactors, such as Atlas HD, offer a platform for chemists to scale-up their processes at lab scale (e.g. 50 mL through to 5 L). The geometry of jacketed reactor vessels often mimics those at pilot plant scale, providing chemists with greater confidence in the feasibility of scaling up their chemistry.
Conducting polymerization chemistry using continuous flow techniques
Certain polymerization chemistry – such as polymer bead production, agarose bead production, and polymer nanoparticle production – can benefit from even greater polydispersity and polymer size control. A more recent method for conducting these types of polymerization chemistry experiments is through the use of continuous flow chemistry systems, such as the Asia flow chemistry range. Through flow chemistry, polymerization mixing occurs through microreactor chips at lab scale, giving far greater control over polydispersity, greater yield, and reducing wastage.
Once proven, the chemistry can be scaled up for production in pilot plant scale flow chemistry systems, such as Titan.
Reaction calorimetry for polymerization scale-up safety studies
Reaction calorimetry allows polymerization scientists to see the polymerization rate and the overall polymerization reaction profile of their chemistry, helping them to determine the heat and energy their chemistry product and ultimately helping to determine the safety of scaling up their reactions.
Advanced reaction calorimeters, such as the Chemisens Calorimeter, provide calorimetric polymerization data that is impervious to viscosity changes, density changes, and reactor fouling.
Polymerization customer stories
We need to keep tight control over our polymer synthesis processes and this, together with the simplicity of the system, was the main reason for selecting the Atlas Potassium.”
Medtronic controls polymer synthesis with Syrris Atlas jacketed reactor
Medical device manufacturer, Medtronic, Ireland, has invested in two Atlas Potassium jacketed reactor systems from Syrris for the synthesis of polymers under strictly controlled conditions.
Profiling polymerization reactions with the Chemisens Calorimeter
Chemisens Calorimetry is helping researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces to quantitatively evaluate polymerization reaction profiles and accurately determine endpoints.
Syrris products have been used in many polymerization studies, including:
Continuous Flow Polymer Synthesis toward Reproducible Large‐Scale Production for Efficient Bulk Heterojunction Organic Solar Cells
First published: 21 August 2015 | https://doi.org/10.1002/cssc.201500850
Continuous-Flow Synthesis of Regioregular Poly(3-Hexylthiophene): Ultrafast Polymerization with High Throughput and Low Polydispersity Index
First published online: 15th July 2014 | https://doi.org/10.1556/JFC-D-14-00009
This publication uses an Asia flow chemistry system