Objectives and content
One of the key challenges faced by the polymer industry
is the need to reduce the residual monomer and solvent
content in polymeric formulations. The present
multi-disciplinary research programme aims at the
investigation of the basic chemical and physical
mechanisms involved in the reduction of residual monomers
and other VOCs content to the lowest possible levels and
the development of methodologies for the implementation
of more efficient processes for monomer and nonpolymerizable VOC removal. This will allow meeting
current and future market needs an environmental and
health protection regulations.
One important class of polymers to be considered in the
project is dispersion polymers obtained by the emulsion
polymerisation of acrylic and vinyl monomers. These
polymers are used in aqueous dispersions such as paint,
adhesives and impact modifiers. Another classes of
polymers are those obtained by mass or solution
polymerisation of acrylic styrenic and olefinic monomers.
In the present project, the research efforts will be
specifically focused on the following scientific and
Producing acrylic emulsions with less than l OO ppm of
residual monomers and less than l,OOO ppm of total VOCs.
Producing polyacrylics and polystyrenics by mass or
solution polymerisation with the same requirements as
above for levels of residual monomers and VOCs.
Reaching low levels of VOCs in vinyl/acrylic emulsion
copolymerisation, typically being under 500 ppm of
residual monomers and 1,500 ppm of VOCs. It should be
noted that this case is much more difficult than the
previous one because we deal with monomers that have
different reactivities. Moreover, due to the high water
solubility of vinyl acetate, its level generally remains
quite high in aqueous dispersion processes.
Reducing the levels of VOCs in suspension
polymerisation styrene/acrylonitrile copolymers to a
maximum of 200 ppm.
Reaching a total VOC level of 200 ppm in the solution
copolymerisation of styrene/maleic anhydride.
Fundamental investigation of free-radical
polymerisation at high conversions. Study of the
diffusion-controlled termination, propagation and
Fundamental investigation of phase equilibria in
Development of predictive mechanistic models to
describe the monomer / solvent removal in reactors and
Additional benefits will include substantial savings in
the raw materials during the manufacturing process, as
well as improvement of the produced polymer quality,
including optical and mechanical properties, processing
characteristics smell, etc. All the results of this
study will have direct and immediate implications on the
more efficient reduction of residual monomers and other
VOCs, in order to meet the increasing safety and antipollution regulations.
The proposal addresses the general Technical Area 1
(Production Technologies) in the workprogramme. More
specifically, the development of low residual monomer and
solvent process technologies conforms with Point 1.2
(Development of Clean Production Technologies) and the
Principal Research Tasks 1.2.1.S (Reduction of hazardous
materials such as organic solvents and other harmful
compounds) and 1.2.3.S (Incorporation of new technologies
and materials into production processes and equipment for
significant limitation of emissions and overall pollution
at production sites).
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
6167 RA Geleen