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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S018603/1
Title: Switchable Polymer Manufacturing Delivering Sustainable Products
Principal Investigator: Williams, Professor CK
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Covestro Deutschland AG DSM Econic Technologies Ltd
SCG Chemicals Co. Ltd University of Bristol University of Minnesota
Department: Oxford Chemistry
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 October 2019 Ends: 30 September 2024 Value (£): 1,577,546
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufacturing Machine & Plant Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Oct 2018 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 3 and 4 October 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
In the UK, the plastic industry alone employs >170,000 people and has an annual sale turnover of >£23.5 billion, it is also one of the top 10 UK exports. Worldwide polymer production volumes exceed 300 Mt/annum, with CAGR of 5-10%. Today almost all polymers are sourced from oi/gas and are neither chemically recycled nor biodegradable. Existing polymer manufacturing plants are optimized for a single product and because of the very high capital expenditure required to build plants their lifetimes must be as long as possible. One drawback of existing processes designed for a single product is that they hinder innovation and slow the introduction of step-change products. In this proposal a new manufacturing process allows monomer mixtures to be selectively polymerized to selectively deliver completely new types of sustainable materials. The process requires just one reactor which is re-configured to dial-up multiple combinations of desirable products with controllable structures and compositions. This fellowship allows time for detailed investigation and development of the manufacturing concept as well as new research into product applications in three high-tech, high-value sectors, namely as recyclable and biodegradable thermoplastic elastomers, shape-memory plastics for robotics and delivery agents for biomolecule therapies. The research is underpinned by the efficient use of renewable resources, such as carbon dioxide and bio-derived monomers, and the polymers are designed for efficient end-of-life recycling and biodegradation. By applying existing commodity monomers, such as propene oxide and maleic anhydride, industrialization and translation of the results is accelerated. The fellowship allows the PI to learn new skills and build collaborations which will be realized through regular sabbaticals and secondments. It also allows the close industrial collaboration and oversight to re-configure polymer manufacturing to produce sustainable, high value materials to met existing and future industrial needs.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk