Please join us to hear a webinar by Professor Alison Scott (PhD ‘19), winner of the 2020 Park and Veva Reilly ChE Medal for Proficiency in Research. She will discuss her work on a general framework for the design of polymeric materials, which maximizes experimental resources and optimizes the resulting polymer product’s suitability for its intended application. Professor Scott will discuss two distinct (yet related) case studies to demonstrate that the framework can be useful in many industries and applications and for any type of polymeric material.
All graduate ChE students will receive an Outlook calendar event with webinar access details.
Everyone is welcome – If you are not a graduate ChE student, contact the Manager of Graduate Studies for the access information you need to join the webinar.
The diversity and versatility of polymeric materials provide many opportunities for product design. Polymers are typically inexpensive (in terms of both material and processing costs), lightweight, and have tailorable application properties. As a result, they are employed in both commodity and specialty applications (e.g., as coatings, paints, adhesives, foams, fibres, films, and bulk molded materials).
The range of polymeric materials available for engineering applications can be overwhelming. Technical data are typically available once a material is selected, but how is that initial selection made? How can that material be tailored for a specific application? Many scientists and engineers use trial-and-error approaches; often the synthesis is the priority, and finding a suitable application is an afterthought. In other cases, researchers may have an application in mind, and they try various recipes until they are satisfied with the result. However, both of these approaches are ineffective. Not only are valuable experimental resources wasted during the trial-and-error stage, but there is also no guarantee that the polymer products have been optimized for the intended application.
As material requirements for particular applications become more specific and strict, using a targeted approach to design polymeric materials becomes a necessity. Following a general design framework prevents researchers from using trial-and-error approaches or shoehorning materials into applications for which they are non-optimal. To obtain polymer products with desirable properties (both fundamental characteristics and for a specific application), one must always begin with a strong understanding of existing materials and methods. This background knowledge informs preliminary design of experiments, which in turn provides insight for additional experiments to synthesize (and characterize) optimally designed materials.
A general framework for the design of polymeric materials has been developed and implemented, and the specific aspects are grounded in two independent case studies. These two distinct (yet related) case studies have been selected to demonstrate that the framework is not limited to a particular industry or application, nor to a specific type of polymeric material. In the first case study, water-soluble terpolymers (and related polymerization kinetics) are investigated for use in polymer flooding during enhanced oil recovery (EOR). In contrast, the second case study examines a variety of polymeric materials that have the potential to be used for acetone gas sensing (for biomedical applications). Both case studies use the same general design framework in a sequential, iterative manner to move towards optimally designed materials for each target application.
Alison Scott is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Process Engineering and Applied Science at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She obtained her BASc, MASc and PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo; her MASc and PhD work was supervised by Professor Alex Penlidis.
Professor Scott’s research in Polymer Reaction Engineering has dealt with a wide variety of topics, including controlled radical polymerization, crosslinking systems, multivariate statistical analysis, reactive processing, polymeric sensing materials, and water-soluble copolymer and terpolymer systems. To date, she has 21 refereed journal publications and has shared her research at national and international conferences. She has received several awards in recognition of her work, including the Vale Masters in Engineering Scholarship from the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation, an NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship, a 2018 Institute for Polymer Research Award, and the Park and Veva Reilly Medal.