Polymer Chemistry and Catalysis

Associated Group Prof. Udo Kragl (University of Rostock)

Overview

Our work is directed towards gaining basic knowledge as well as to develop practical processes. Investigating the main parameters necessary information for scale up is collected or novel areas for application are to be developed.

Traditionally, tin-organyls have being used as vulcanization catalysts in sealants and adhesives with excellent results in terms of shelf life, curing time and selectivity. Nevertheless, due to its inherent toxicity and the subsequent environmental concerns, the search for alternative catalysts with comparable performance is one of our main research areas. In order to achieve this task, we design and develop new catalytic systems making use of tools from inorganic and organic synthesis and organometallic chemistry.

Silicone polymers, especially polymethylsiloxanes (PDMS) derivatives, are of paramount importance as adhesives, sealants, insulators, etc. Among these, those that vulcanize at low temperatures under ambient conditions represent a considerable fraction of the market. Silicone sealants display outstanding performance under harsh environmental conditions, are resistant to UV light, ozone, moisture and are characterized by their extreme frost and heat resistance. Moreover, they show excellent adhesion to the surface of typical construction substrates. Occasionally, in addition to the above mentioned requirements that sealants must satisfy, very special characteristics are required for specialty applications in the fields of machinery, automotive, electronics, etc. Hence, we strive to develop new functionalized silicones with tailored properties to meet those requirements.

Additionally, in cooperation with our industry partners, we aim to develop new polymerization catalysts and polymeric materials to be used in coatings, sealants and adhesive technologies and to investigate process engineering issues.

Moreover, by judicious characterization and optimization of the process parameters and the catalytic system, we aim to synthesize polymers not only with narrow molecular weight distributions but also tailored physicochemical and mechanical properties.

Novel concepts for catalyst recycling such as membrane processes are developed. Based on basic thermodynamic and kinetic data models are used to control relevant parameters such as yield and selectivity.