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PI: O'Hare, Dermot

Department: Chemistry

During DPhil research a series of molecular catalysts for the production of a wide range of polymers with unique and tuneable properties have been developed. This includes a highly resistant material that finds applications in medical and aerospace applications, and an elastic monomaterial which offers advantages in processability, and recyclability compared to commercial materials. Moving towards a circular economy for plastics requires the development of simple high-performance materials, which can be readily processed and recycled without costly separation procedures, or the addition of compatibilizers. The catalyst system is also able to access a large scope of polymer compositions, able to produce polymeric materials with varied thermal and mechanical properties from a single process, with the potential to produce materials with virtually unprecedented ‘on-demand’ tuneable properties. This work has resulted in several academic publications as well as two patent applications.

This work has mostly been performed at a lab-scale proof-of-concept stage, with some preliminary large scale and high-pressure testing giving extremely promising results. To increase the potential impact for this research, the next stages are exemplifying the catalyst system at larger scales and industrially relevant reactor conditions and identifying specific target materials with marketable combinations of properties. The IAA grant will fund the first stage of this development, through close association with SCG Chemicals and their subsidiary companies. Reactor time, advanced polymer characterisation, and access to the technological, engineering, and business teams will enable the full potential of this new technology to be realised.

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