Integrated Continuous Processing and Flow Characterization of RAFT Polymerization in Tubular Flow Reactors

    • Christian H. Hornung
    • Xuan Nguyen
    • Geoff Dumsday
    • Simon Saubern*
    • CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, Victoria. Australia

    Several unit operations are combined in series to form an integrated, continuous polymerization process; namely inline degassing of monomer stock solution prior to reaction, polymerization using the RAFT approach and precipitation after reaction to form a solid polymeric product. The polymerization is conducted at 70–80 °C with reaction times of 30–90 min in a stainless steel tubular flow reactor, yielding poly(acrylamide) at high conversion (typically >90%) and with a low polydispersity of 1.14–1.23. The axial dispersion occurring inside the tubular flow reactor during polymerization is characterized by reaction profiling using a series of NMR samples. The process can be scaled up to a total output of 1.36 kg of polymer per day on this laboratory-scale reactor.

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