Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number EP/M013952/1
Title Lowering the Energy Demand and Broadening the Scope of Renewable Polymer Manufacture
Status Completed
Energy Categories Not Energy Related 60%;
Energy Efficiency(Industry) 40%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Chemistry) 100%
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Professor S Howdle
No email address given
University of Nottingham
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 21 April 2015
End Date 31 January 2017
Duration 21 months
Total Grant Value £298,644
Industrial Sectors Manufacturing
Region East Midlands
Programme Manufacturing : Manufacturing
Investigators Principal Investigator Professor S Howdle , Chemistry, University of Nottingham (99.999%)
  Other Investigator Professor MG Davidson , Chemistry, University of Bath (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , BRITEST Ltd (0.000%)
Project Contact , Knowledge Transfer Network Limited (0.000%)
Project Contact , Purac Biochem BV., The Netherlands (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract Our society is completely dependent upon polymers (plastics) in every facet of our lives; from clothes to computers to novel composites and cosmetics. But this brings problems. In 2010 every citizen of the USA discarded 140 kg of plastic into land-fill; and those figures are rising across the globe. As more of the World's economies move towards Western levels, we simply will not be able to continue to use polymers in the same way, nor will our oil reserves provide sufficient raw materials with security of supply.There are alternatives, derived from renewable resources, and these can also lead to degradable polymers that could have a significant positive impact and could help solve the issues of landfill. But despite all the hype and expectation, renewables currently account for less than 5% of all polymers. One of the major routes to achieving better market penetration of renewable polymers is to lower the price, and one of the biggest fixed costs is in the energy required to carry out the polymerisation reactions that make these polymers on the commercial scale. Our industry partners have told us clearly that lowering the energy costs and shaving off a just a few pence per kg of the overall cost of the polymer would have a dramatic effect on their ability to sell more renewable polymers into the marketplace.Our project addresses this issue directly and focuses on new energy efficient polymerisations. Our approach is novel, using high pressure carbon dioxide as a processing aid to enhance polymerisations at lower temperatures. If successful we will achieve not only significant energy savings, but also, by using lower temperatures, we will open up a completely new range of polymer properties, such as increased heat resistance and enhanced mechanical properties that have not been easily accessible before, and certainly cannot be achieved through the traditional high temperature commercial processes.This project will tackle both the technical and engineering aspects around the use of high pressure carbon dioxide in polymerisation reactions and will provide new approaches to overcoming the key hurdles that are currently preventing larger scale manufacture of renewable polymers. Our project will also produce valuable life cycle and energy consumption data on our new process. These data will be useful in helping our industry partners to build a credible business case for utilising high pressure carbon dioxide to improve their processes and polymer products.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 15/07/15