Chemical Technology

The Laboratory for Chemical Technology (LCT) integrates chemical science and engineering in its research on catalysis, polymerization, kinetics, reactor design and process design. LCT is part of the Department of Materials, Textiles and Chemical Engineering, within the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at Ghent University in Belgium.

Polymer design

Polymer design

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 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?

The following topics are part of the Polymer design research theme:

Customizing the design of complex macromolecular architectures

Customizing the design of complex macromolecular architectures

For advanced polymeric applications, such as drug delivery systems and coatings, each individual macromolecule needs to be customized with respect to its monomer sequences and location of branches. Using advanced computer algorithms, a full characterization - and thus design - of these individual macromolecules is possible.

Topic leader

Design and optimization of industrial dispersed phase polymerization reactors

The regulated grow of the particle size distribution up to high solid contents is a major industrial challenge for the design of dispersed phase polymerization processes in aqueous media. Advanced algorithms - implemented in user friendly computer codes – allow the design and optimization of industrial dispersed phase polymerization reactors.

Topic leader

Scaling up reactors for radical polymerization in a safe and effective way

Radical polymerization processes are characterized by a high exothermicity, particularly when using large reactors. This may not only lead to a considerable increase of temperature, but also to strongly deviating temperatures within the different zones of the reactor. As a result, safety is compromised and the product will be influenced by inhomogeneities and runaway. LCT developed commercial software to take care of these problems.

Topic leader

Designing numerical methods for chain-growth processes

Several chemical processes include a chain-growth mechanism, in which species with different chain lengths are created. Deterministic as well as stochastic methods are developed in order to describe and design these chemical process into detail.

Topic leader

Developing environmentally benign processes for kinetics in liquid phase

Fundamental understanding of reaction mechanisms in liquid phase - such as environmentally benign processes in the aqueous phase - requires accurate intrinsic rate coefficients. To this end, both dedicated experiments and liquid-phase computational chemistry can be applied.

Topic leader