Introduction to Polymer Science: Polymerization

Course Descriptions:

The Introduction to Polymer Science series will cover basic scientific and engineering principles used in the polymer industry. The objective of this course is to provide an integrated view of the fundamentals of polymer science and engineering, including the chemical structure of various polymers, methods of measuring the molecular weight, polymerization kinetics and reactors, rheological behavior, polymer processing technologies, and a variety of the engineering properties exhibited by polymers. In contrast to most other science and engineering courses where the students only study in depth one topic (e.g. chemical kinetics or fluid flow), this series will help the student appreciate how the various science and engineering methods are integrated in order to produce an important commercial product.

Students will Learn:

Topics to be covered include: the kinetic analysis of condensation polymerization, gelation, free radical polymerization, cationic/anionic polymerization, Ziegler-Natta polymerization catalysis, copolymerization and industrial polymerization processes; and special lectures: ‘Chemical Kinetics for Mechanical Engineers.’

In addition to lectures and homework, the course will use a Polymer Laboratory Simulator that will allow the student to virtually perform experiments where they make various polymer solutions and then determine the molecular weight of those polymers using the same measurement with subsequent data analysis that they would use in a wet chemistry laboratory.

    Course Modules:

    Module 1 – Introduction And Condensation Polymer Kinetics

    • Learning Objective: Describe polymer classification, differentiate between condensation and additional polymerization, describe how various monomers give rise to two different types of condensation polymerization, define the most probably molecular weight distribution for condensation polymerization, and describe self-catalyzed condensation reaction.

    Module 2 – Gelation

    • Learning Objective: Define gelation and gel point, cite examples of the chemistry of gel forming polymers, describe the statistics of gel formation, and determine the extent of reaction when gel is formed.

    Module 3 – Free Radical Addition Polymerization Kinetics

    • Learning Objective: Describe the mechanistic steps in free radical olefin polymerization, describe chemical mechanisms behind chain transfer, assess the kinetics of chain transfer, define the effect of inhibition and retardation on free radical polymerization, and describe auto-acceleration/the Trommsdorff Effect.

    Module 4 – Cationic, Anionic, and Ziegler-Natta Polymerization

    • Learning Objective: Describe the individual kinetic steps in cationic/anionic polymerization, define the narrow molecular weight distribution produced via living polymerization, explain the kinetics of Z-N polymerization, and understand the multi-site and heterogeneous nature of Z-N catalysts.

    Module 5 – Light Scattering And Size Exclusion Chromotography

    • Learning Objective: Assess the chemistry of co-polymerization, calculate the reactivity ratio, explain bulk polymerization, describe gas phase olefin polymerization, evaluate solution polymerization, assess suspension polymerization, and understand emulsion polymerization.

    Recommended Background:

    • The Introduction to Polymer Science: Polymerization course is targeted toward undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in chemistry or engineering.

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