About The Institute for Polymer Research

Making research pay off

The University of Waterloo's Institute for Polymer Research (IPR) has earned an international reputation for making research initiatives pay off for a wide variety of companies.

These technological initiatives have been instrumental in the development of better polymers for wire and cable applications, polymer modifications to make heat- and oil-resistant rubber, new polymer alloys and blends, systems for recycling polyolefin containers, the computer design of extrusion screws and dies and computer modelling and control of polymerization processes.

These are just some of the results achieved by the Institute, which was established in 1984 to provide research services to polymer-related industries as well as comprehensive graduate instruction in polymer science and engineering.

The Institute, made up of faculty members in chemical engineering and chemistry and representatives of major companies, has become one of North America's leading centres of polymer expertise devoted to creating an imaginative, results-oriented program of graduate studies and research in experimental polymer science and engineering. In turn, this expertise has helped a variety of members firms.

Leading the way in research activities

The Institute carries out applied and fundamental research in areas that are of vital interest to the plastics, coatings, adhesives and elastomers industries. This includes work in such diverse fields as molecular weight characterization, thermal characterization, emulsion polymerization, polymer processing, polymerization kinetics, copolymerization, reactive extrusion, polymer-based catalysts, polymer photochemistry and development of new monomers and polymers.

Major funding support in recent years has helped provide state-of-the-art research equipment and facilities.

How one can benefit from IPR

Scientists and engineers from IPR's Industrial affiliates, along with University of Waterloo faculty and students, share the latest developments in polymer research every May at a two-day Polymer Symposium at the university. Additionally, an IPR-sponsored seminar series at the University of Waterloo offers some of the world's top guest speakers from industry, universities and government.

In addition, all member firms in the Institute receive:
  • Two days of free consulting per annum by faculty members
  • Advanced research results before papers are published
  • Membership on the IPR Industrial Advisory Council
  • Reduced rates on analytical and other research services
  • Priority on contract research


The polymer research group comprises 15 faculty and about 60 graduate students in chemical engineering and chemistry. We provide interdisciplinary training and develop high caliber polymer scientists and engineers.

IPR also provides intensive short courses in Canada, USA, South America and Europe, or in-house for member firms.

  • polymeriz’n pilot plant reactors (1, 2, 5, 25, lit)
  • twin screw compounding equipment
  • single- and twin-screw extruders
  • injection molder (50 ton)
  • polymer molecular weight, composition and structural analysis
  • rheological characterization of plastics
  • thermal characterization equipment
  • torque rheometer
  • on-line density/flow/viscosity sensors
  • high temperature gel permeation chromatography
  • dynamic mechanical analysis
  • Magneflow MagStation (Oxford Instruments): Low field (20 MHz) solid state (Nuclear magnetic resonance) NMR for product quality control studies
  • Equinox 55 Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) + Scope II (Bruker): FTIR Spectrometer with a microscope
  • Dynamical mechanical test analyser (DMTA) V (Rheometrics):
  • parallel disk rheometer (Westech/Technical Analysis (TA))
  • prep-CRYSTAF (Polymer Char): Fractionation of semi-crystalline polymers by crystallinity or molecular weight
  • light scattering and viscosity detectors for analytical Crystaf (Polymer Char)
  • Disc centrifuge photosedimentometer for high resolution particle size distribution analysis (Brookhaven instruments)
  • general (all purpose) particle size analyzer for colloidal suspensions (Brookhaven instruments)
  • (Notched constant tensile load) NCTL Device for analysing stress crack resistance
  • microcalorimeter Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC) III (Setaram): DSC and ultra sensitivity calorimetry for polymerisation reaction and crystallization studies
  • additional $100,000. for laboratory enhancements, including the construction of a walk-in fumehood for a new gas-phase reactor system
  • Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) from Science: Scanning electron microscope (SEM)/Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), Imaging Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis (ESCA)/secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS)