OMP enables automated control of polymer properties during synthesis

Aug. 24, 2016
This new control interface enables automatic control of molecular weight during free radical polymerization reactions.

Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies (APMT) announced that it has achieved automatic control of polymer-molecular weight during synthesis utilizing new capabilities integrated with APMT’s ACOMP product, which monitors polymer properties during polymerization reactions. The results of this collaborative research effort with Tulane University’s Center for Polymer Reaction Monitoring and Characterization (PolyRMC) were recently published in polymer-science journal, Macromolecules, in an article titled “Automatic Control of Polymer Molecular Weight during Synthesis.”  This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

ACOMP’s real-time monitoring capabilities have enabled APMT to develop an automated software controller for molecular weight that does not require a detailed kinetic model. This new control interface, coupled to ACOMP, enables automatic control of molecular weight during free radical polymerization reactions. 

“ACOMP’s capability to control polymer molecular weight brings us one step closer to our goal—an ACOMP product platform capable of automatic feedback control of all major characteristics of virtually any polymerization reaction. This development will one day enable a next generation of tailored polymers where manufacturers can dial in specific properties and achieve these perfectly every time,” says Dr. Wayne Reed, APMT’s chief scientific officer.

The molecular-weight controller is derived from the continuous measurement of monomer and polymer concentrations as well as the cumulative weight-average molecular weight throughout the polymerization process. The ACOMP molecular-weight controller utilizes this information and responds with the appropriate control action to direct the polymerization along a predetermined molecular weight trajectory. In a complementary effort, Louisiana State University is collaborating with APMT and Tulane on optimized, model based reaction control.

The automatic control of polymer-molecular weight was performed initially at the laboratory-scale. With this new capability and applications engineering facilities, APMT is now exploring new applications for ACOMP and the controller with interested manufacturers.