Polymeric dispersions are used in a wide variety of applications such as synthetic rubber, paints, adhesives, binders for non-woven fabrics, additives in paper and textiles, leather treatment, impact modifiers for plastic matrices, additives for construction materials, flocculants, and rheological modifiers. They are also used in biomedical and pharmaceutical applications such as diagnostic tests and drug delivery systems. The rapid increase of this industry is due to environmental concerns and governmental regulations to substitute solvent-based systems by water-borne products and to the fact that polymeric dispersions have unique properties that meet a wide range of application requirements, which cannot be met by polymers produced by other polymerization processes.
Dispersed polymers are truly "product by process" materials and major advances can be achieved in this area by combining sound Polymer Science and imaginative process strategies. This idea has inspired the research program of the Polymerization Processes Group (PPG) of POLYMAT. For a number of years we have developed a fundamental investigation of industrially relevant topics. Kinetic studies of high solids multimonomer emulsion polymerizations (mostly neglected by academics); the first, and still only, mathematical model for the development of non-equilibrium polymer particle morphology; analysis of the performance of continuous loop reactors using industrial formulations; innovative strategies for the control of copolymer composition and MWD using reaction calorimetry (easily implementable in large scale reactors); and new insights in the mechanisms controlling the microstructure of acrylic pressure sensitive adhesives are some examples of our activity.
These developments would not have been possible without close collaboration with a number of latex producers. The objective of the Industrial Liaison Program in "Polymerization in Dispersed Media" is to further strength the research in order to help our partners to achieve a better product performance through process engineering.
Member companies will take an active role by influencing the research program through their representative in the Scientific Board. We are looking for a highly interactive environment in steering the program of the consortium, and hence the number of members will be limited. Further details on the benefits to the participating companies are given below. Members companies will support the research program with Euro 17,500/year with an initial 3 years commitment, then they can remain in the program on year to year basis. Members contributions will be mainly devoted to finance PhD projects and, eventually, to acquire specialized equipment.