Continuous flow photo-initiated RAFT polymerisation using a tubular photochemical reactor

    • James Gardiner a
    • Christian H. Hornung a
    • John Tsanaktsidis a
    • Duncan Guthrie b
    • a CSIRO Manufacturing, Bag 10, Clayton South, Victoria 3169, Australia
    • b Vapourtec Ltd, Park Farm Business Centre, Bury St Edmunds IP28 6TS, United Kingdom

    The RAFT (Reversible Addition–Fragmentation Chain Transfer) approach allows for greatly enhanced control over radical polymerisation processes, resulting in polymers with low dispersity. Classically, RAFT polymerisations are conducted in batch using thermal initiators. Herein, we describe a novel photo-initiated RAFT polymerisation procedure, using a tubular continuous flow reactor for the polymerisation of (meth)acrylates and acrylamides at close to ambient temperatures. This approach makes use of the excellent light penetration properties of millimetre-size fluoropolymer tubing, enabling the synthesis of multigrams/kgs of RAFT polymer per day. A tubular photochemical reactor presents a very practical and compact design for the continuous manufacture of RAFT polymers in quantities that would otherwise be difficult to achieve in a batch system using photo-initiation.


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