Skip to main content

A STATIC MIXER REACTOR FOR STARCH GRAFT POLYMERISATION

Objective

The objective of StaMiStAP is to develop a novel, continuous process for the starch polymerisation reactions on the basis of static mixing elements.

A continuous static-mixer reactor is attractive for commercial starch polymerisations because the static mixer reactor has excellent micromixing and plug-flow behaviour, shows good heat transfer characteristics, has a low pressure drop while processing viscous systems, and is easy to scale up. Therefore, StaMiStAP is an innovative approach to develop novel reactors for starch polymerisation reactions.

StaMiStAP aims to develop a continuous, bench-scale static-mixer reactor for grafting of (poly)acrylates onto starch. Starch-g-acrylic copolymers are widely known at laboratory scale and exhibit attractive properties for use as, among others, super-absorbents, oil-drilling muds, and paper strengthening agents. Grafted starch-acrylic copolymers are at least partly biodegradable and non-toxic polymers. The product properties, such as mechanical strength and biodegradability, will depend on the process conditions and the optimum product quality will be evaluated as a function of the relevant operation parameters. Prospective products will be tested in the market and their marketability will be assessed.

StaMiStAP contributes to the development of continuous processes for the starch industry in general and commercial production of starch-based polymers in particular. Continuous processes will improve the competitiveness of the European starch industry as a result of increased automatic process control and well-defined product quality. Furthermore, development of at least partly biodegradable starch-acrylic copolymers to replace current polyacrylates is stimulated by European environmental legislation and increasing green consumerism. Market opportunities are promising as may be concluded from the current annual demands for superabsorbents alone which are over 140.000 tons and show a rapid expansion of 5-10% per year.

Four partners with widely acknowledged experience in research and application in respective areas of chemical engineering, polymer science, starch, and both acrylic monomers and polyacrylates will jointly work on the StaMiStAP project. Owing to the unique collaboration of two European leading industrial companies in respective markets of potato starch and acrylic monomers and polyacrylates together with university laboratories with a strong reputation world-wide on reaction engineering and polymer science, an integrated approach is feasible and a major breakthrough of starchy polymers may be expected.

Coordinator

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Address
Nijenborg 4
9749 AG Groningen
Netherlands

Participants (3)

AVEBE B.V.
Netherlands
Address
Avebe Weg, 1
9607 PT Foxhol
BASF AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT
Germany
Address
Carl Bosch Straße, 68
67056 Ludwigshafen Rhein
University of Cambridge
United Kingdom
Address
Pembroke Street
CB2 3QZ Cambridge