Chemical engineering challenges in the production of waterborne dispersed polymers

Jose Maria Asua (Institute for Polymer Materials (POLYMAT), Euskal Herriko Unibersitatea)

Location: Sala de Graus, ETSEQ
Start time: Oct. 1, 2010, 12 p.m.

Abstract

Waterborne dispersed polymers are the green alternative to the traditional solvent-borne polymer production. With a worldwide annual production in excess of twenty million tonnes, waterborne polymers are used in a wide range of applications including coatings, adhesives, additives for paper and textiles, electronic devices, cosmetics, leather treatment, impact modifiers for plastic matrices, additives for construction materials and synthetic rubber. The rapid development of this industry has traditionally been driven by environmental concerns and governmental regulations to reduce the emissions of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere. Currently, the driving force for the development of the emulsion polymer industry is the fact that these materials offer unique properties to meet a wide range of application needs.
Waterborne polymers are products by process in which the application properties of the product are determined by the process conditions in the reactor. Therefore, there is a strong need of knowing how the process conditions affect product properties. To a large extent, this is currently performed based on empirical knowledge (trial-and-error). However, this cannot be a long-term solution in a scenario in which competition and margins reduction are pushing emulsion polymer producers to efficient, safe and environmentally friendly production of materials with improved performance. This can only be guaranteed by using knowledge-based strategies.
This lecture will address to the challenges in developing such knowledge-based strategies including i) the understanding of the fundamental mechanisms involved in emulsion polymerization; ii) the development of mathematical models able to predict the influence of process conditions on the microstructure of the polymer; iii) the polymer microstructure/product properties relationships; iv) the opportunities in on-line monitoring, optimization and control leading to the consistent production of emulsion polymers with the required microstructure; and v) the alternatives for process intensification.

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About Jose Maria Asua

Institution: Institute for Polymer Materials (POLYMAT), Euskal Herriko Unibersitatea

Jose Maria Asua is Professor of Chemical Engineering and director of the Institute for Polymer Materials (POLYMAT), in the University of the Bask Country. His research is focused on polymerization processes that are industrially important, and on knowledge-based strategies for the production of waterborne polymers.

He has published over 230 research articles, which have received over 4000 citations, and given over 45 invited and keynote lectures in international conferences. He is also coauthor of four patents and has directed over 30 PhD thesis. He was Associate Editor of Polymer Reaction Engineering and is a member of the editorial boards of Chemical Engineering Journal, Macromolecular Materials and Engineering, and Macromolecular Reaction Engineering.

He received the 2005 Euskadi Research Prize in Science and Technology, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize for Clean Technologies, and is a member of Jakiunde, Academy of Arts and Sciences of Eusko Ikaskuntza.

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