ATRP SOLUTIONS, INC.
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is directed towards adaptation of atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) to industrial scale production. ATRP is among the most powerful controlled/living radical polymerization techniques, and it is anticipated that many new products containing polymers made by this technique will be introduced in the US within the next several years. The major factors which constrain the commercial application of ATRP are high copper catalyst concentration and the special handling procedures which are required to avoid catalyst oxidation. Recently developed catalytic systems, ICAR and ARGET ATRP, alleviate these problems but were successfully applied only on the laboratory scale. Herein This project will develop a new "feeding" method for ICAR ATRP which will have a much greater potential to be used on industrial scale. There are several advantages of a "feeding" method compared to currently used ICAR ATRP: a) lower amounts of catalyst and radical initiator needed, b) precise temperature control over the polymerization process not required, c) higher reaction temperature possible which will allow reaching higher conversions in a shorter time, d) possibility of automation of the whole process, e) safe process for exothermic polymerization reactions.
Materials made by ATRP are slowly entering broad market segments which collectively are estimated to be a $200 billion dollar US market opportunity. However, production of polymeric material via normal ATRP process generates a lot of chemical waste due to the need for catalyst removal. The amount of chemical waste generated may be significantly decreased when ICAR/ARGET ATRP is applied. These new systems, using ppm amounts of catalyst are significant advancements on initial procedures which enable i) preparation of new polymeric materials in an environmentally friendly fashion, ii) preparation of polymeric materials at significantly lower cost, iii) better control over the polymerization and iv) simple industrially viable synthetic procedures. Successful accomplishment of the goals in this SBIR Phase I project will allow straightforward scale-up of ATRP process and bring it much closer its potential for use in commercial products across broad markets. More importantly, expansion of the "feeding" method for ICAR ATRP will allow, in the near future, a significant decrease in the generation of waste for all companies which are going to use ATRP technology for producing new polymeric materials.