POLYMAT, the University of the Basque Country’s Institute of Polymer Materials, is helping to solve the problem of contamination of polymers obtained through polymerisation processes involving emulsions. With European funding obtained four years ago, the project on removing monomer residues from polymers was undertaken. POLYMAT has been working in this field with the collaboration of three other universities (from Germany, Greece and Switzerland) as well as three foreign companies.
Unfortunately, in emulsion-based polymerisation processes, total polymerisation (of all the monomers) is not achieved and the resulting latex contains both monomer residues and volatile compounds. For example, the acrylic monomer used in latex-based paints, apart from foul-smelling, contains contaminant substances. The research team at POLYMAT is looking into two procedures aimed at eliminating these and reducing the associated risks:
- Post-polymerisation: After the initial polymerisation process, extra initiator is added so that the reaction may continue on the residual monomers. It is cheaper than the second process (described below) as the whole process can be carried out in the same reaction chamber. However, we only manage to eliminate the monomer residues.
Maria Jesús Barandiaran | Basque research
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