Polymeric materials - allowing to realise both commodity and high-tech applications – are widely used in many important industrial sectors, such as construction, information technology and health care, as well as in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry. Designing polymer production processes is not only needed to expand these industries’ application ranges but also to avoid the formation of off-spec material and to make sure that energy resources are optimally used.
This research theme specifically aims at the design of new polymeric materials up to industrial scale, considering advanced multi-scale computational tools. Our goal is to take control over the entire microstructure of individual polymer chains, taking into account economic and environmental constraints. Important aspects covered are a fundamental understanding of the (de)polymerisation kinetics, sustainable scale-up of polymerisation processes, and the detailed characterisation of polymer products so that structure-property relations can be identified.
Our key research questions:
- How can a complete characterisation of the polymer product be obtained to enable process control?
- How can the complex interplay between chemical and diffusion phenomena be regulated to facilitate the production of high-tech polymeric materials?
- How can a transition be made to water-based polymerization processes?
- What are the most relevant industrial polymer production protocols, accounting for safety regulations?