Advances in polymerization techniques have enabled the synthesis of polymers with precise composition, architecture and molecular weight. My group has further extended the diversity of polymer structure achievable by these techniques through the implementation of reactor engineering principles. We pioneered two concepts where polymers with any programable shape or molecular weight distribution can be synthesized starting from a simple pen-and-paper drawing of the targeted product.
We recently implemented a similar reactor engineering strategy to perform the catalytic depolymerization of polyethylene. By performing three catalytic reactions in tandem in a flow reactor, we established that polyethylene can be converted into propylene with high selectivity and high conversion.
All in all, my presentation will highlight that fundamental chemical engineering principles can be used to achieve synthetic innovation.