Polymerization and polymer synthesis

Discover the range of chemistry technology that is helping polymer chemists conduct polymerization chemistry and polymerization safety studies.


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.

Polymerization of styrene
This image shows the polymerization of styrene, one of many types of polymerization chemistry possible

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.

Click here to discover Syrris products used in polymerization studies

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.

Click here to discuss your polymerization chemistry with a Syrris chemist

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.”

John Jennings, a Senior Scientist at Medtronic

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.

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We do a lot of fundamental research, studying the heterophase polymerization processes used to produce latexes. We rely on Chemisens Calorimetry for this work, using it almost daily”

Klaus Tauer, Leader of the Department of Colloid Chemistry’s Heterophase Polymerization – Polymer Dispersions Group

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.

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Polymerization publications

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

This publication uses an Asia flow chemistry system and the FLUX module

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