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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: GR/T11807/01
Title: The Microscale Polymer Processing Consortium for Macromolecular Engineering: Toolbox Development and Application
Principal Investigator: Olmsted, Professor PD
Other Investigators:
Duckett, Dr RA Hine, Dr P Wilson, Professor HJ
Jimack, Professor PK Harlen, Dr OG Likhtman, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
DSM Dupont Ineos
Mitsubishi Chemical UK Limited
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 10 March 2005 Ends: 09 December 2009 Value (£): 2,599,490
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Condensed Matter Physics Fluid Dynamics
Materials Characterisation Materials Processing
Materials Synthesis & Growth Materials testing & eng.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Chemicals
Related Grants:
GR/T11852/01 GR/T11845/01 GR/T11821/01 GR/T11838/01
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The formation of the Microscale Polymer Processing consortium of six academic and six industrial partners under the EPSRC MaPEA scheme in 2000 has led to a world-leading and powerful methodology in the UK for developing a molecular-design approach to polymer processing. The team now links chemistry through physics to engineering, using highly-controlled model polymers for systematic experiments in highly-probed flow-rigs to hardtest molecular-based multiscale models of synthesis and processing. After 3 years we now have quantitative molecular modelling tools for amorphous polymers, linear and branched, a powerful combination of neutron, x-ray and optical probes of flows, unique data-sets on flow-induced crystallisation and an in-house flow-modelling tool that incorporates the molecular information and behaviour.The industrial consortium has urged a second phase to the long-term project that applies and takes advantage of the capabilities achieved in the first three years, yet uses the methodology to address fresh science and engineering. Careful prioritisation has indentified three key targets of this phase, to be addressed by three linked project themes ; (1) TOOLKIT: an integrated toolkit of linked software, that may be used by university and industrial researchers to explore polymer molecular variables and their process-scale consequences; (2) CRYSTAL: a molecular based theory of flow-induced polymer crystallisation; (3) 2-PHASE: a molecular based theory of 2-phase (blended or filled) polymer flows. In the second half of the project these capabilities will be incorporated into the developing toolkit . A central task is to develop a fully 3-dimensional version of the flow-solver. This is not a simple extension of the 2d version, and requires input from computer scientists, who we propose adding to the already highly multidisciplinary team. The three interdependent streams of research will be fed by continuous improvements to the underlying theory of entangled polymer dynamics; of especial interest for this project is the incorporation of dynamic entanglements into the theory for branched polymers, and the effect of flow-deformation on the entanglement field itself.The ability to probe polymer flows and solids at a range of lengthscales (contrasting, for example neutron-scattering maps of process flows with optical anosotropy), alongside multiscale modelling will then permit a series of key practical process issues to be addressed. These include control of extrudate swelling, design of branched polymer additives, predictive processing of reactive polymers (transesterifying and cross-linking), flow instabilities and frozen-in stress prediction. The technology transfer to industry will be managed by a team of researchers funded from the contributions of the industrial partners, working alongside the EPSRC-funded PDRAs. Experience suggests that the project is a good training ground for young scientists and engineers in public engangement and communication (MuPP has attracted TV, radio and press coverage).
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Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk