Chemistry

Our research work in Polymer Chemistry covers a wide range of topics, from new materials development and monomer and polymer development to process optimisation at lab scale.

We have many years of experience in the synthesis of a variety of materials, at scales varying from a milligram to a kilogram. Over the years, a large number of customers have benefited from our experience and extensive synthesis facilities.

Some examples of our Chemistry projects:

Polycarbonate coating resins

In collaboration with the TU/e and a major player in the coating industry, PTG/e developed a possibly new generation of (powder) coating resins of the aliphatic polycarbonate type. These resins were synthesized by chain growth copolymerization from epoxides and carbon dioxide (CO2). This made the use of highly toxic phosgene redundant.

Phosgene is used as precursor for the current commercial polycarbonate. By the new (catalytic) process this use is no longer necessary, which results in a positive effect on safety and process conditions.
A big advantage of aliphatic polycarbonates, with respect to commercial polyester resins for powder coatings lies in the higher hydrolytic stability and UV resistance, which implies a much better outdoor durability than semi-aromatic resins. Moreover, carbonate bonds in the main chain usually ensure a higher toughness than the corresponding ester bonds.

The polymers produced were carefully molecularly characterized. In particular, mass spectrometry yielded important information on functional groups present at the ends or along the polymer chain, which are crucial for the curing chemistry of these resins.

Selected polycarbonates were first casted from solution, after which the polymer films were successfully cured and tested. Powder coating evaluations of the most promising formulae showed excellent processability, high pencil hardness, very good adhesion on substrate, good appearance and solvent resistance.

Blue Energy

In the Netherlands, scientists are working on a blue energy technology based on Reverse ElectroDialysis (RED). Crucial to this technology is the use of smart membranes. Through a research project carried out for one of our customers, PTG/e was closely involved in the development of these membranes.

Blue Energy is energy derived from water. This energy can be harnessed in a variety of ways and used to generate electric power. If successfully implemented on a large scale, blue energy could be the answer to the world’s need for sustainable energy.
The Reverse ElectroDialysis (RED) technology is a technology in which the difference in salt concentration between sea water and fresh water is exploited to generate power via osmosis. Crucial to this technology is the use of smart membranes.

By combining our knowledge of materials and organic chemistry with our customer’s technical expertise in the production of well-defined thin layers of material, we succeeded in developing the membranes needed. These membranes will play a crucial role in ensuring the commercial success of the RED technology for blue energy.

Through a series of performance evaluations in the lab and the smart use of materials, the membranes were progressively fine-tuned to achieve the efficiency level required for a pilot plant. A pilot plant was built and is currently in operation on the Afsluitdijk dam in the Netherlands.

For more information on Blue Energy: http://www.kennislink.nl/publicaties/zoet-zout-stroom (in Dutch)