3 research outputs found

    Continuous flow synthesis of hypercrosslinked polymers (HCPs) and its environmental impact evaluation

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    Hypercrosslinked polymers(HCPs) are a class of microporous adsorbents with a wide range of applications, including dye adsorption, and gas storage. Traditionally, HCPs are synthesised through Friedel-Crafts alkylation, which involves a time-consuming synthesis process in batch reactors, posing challenges for scaling up production to meet global demand. The prolong reaction duration issue could be eliminated by means of a new synthetic method to substitute batch reactors. The ultimate aim of this study is to intensify the HCP synthesis process by transitioning from batch reactors to continuous reactors. This shift intents to enhance productivity while maintaining a high specific surface area, crucial for superior adsorption capacity. Additionally, this study aspired to reduce the environmental impact associated with this new method for HCP synthesis. To achieve these objectives, a continuous flow system had been adopted as a replacement for the conventional batch method in HCP synthesis. Three types of HCPs were successfully synthesised using well-established strategies (internally crosslinked, post-crosslinked, and externally crosslinked) in the continuous flow system, showcasing its versatility. The productivity, measured as space-time-yield (STY), of continuous flow synthesis showed an enhancement ranging from 32 – 117-fold when compared to batch synthesis. These improvements were attributed to reducing reaction duration during flow synthesis, from 1440 minutes (24 hours) to 5 – 15 minutes. The specific surface areas of flow-synthesised HCPs were, on average, lower than the batch-synthesised HCPs by 1.5 – 10 %. This meant that when compared to batch-synthesised HCPs, more quantities of flow-synthesised HCPs were needed for dye adsorption and CO2 capture. However, despite this requirement for larger quantities, the environmental assessment of continuous flow synthesis indicated a reduction in negative environmental impacts across most environmental impact indicators. This suggest an improvement in the environmental sustainability of continuous flow HCP synthesis compared to batch synthesis. Furthermore, this study also explored an alternative synthesis method using twin screw extraction (TSE) with deep eutectic solvents (DES), a benign solvent replacement for halogenated solvents, during HCP synthesis. Although this approach offers promising potential as the replacement of continuous flow synthesis using conventional halogenated solvents, further investigations are warranted for its optimisation. In conclusion, this thesis advocates for the adoption of continuous flow synthesis of HCPs, underlining its potential for productivity enhancement and reduced environmental impacts. This study lays the foundation for the potential industrial-scale implementation of continuous flow synthesis, bridging the gap between HCP supply and demand while contributing to lower environmental impacts in the production process

    Comparing the environmental impacts of using bio-renewable and fossil-derived solvent in polymer membrane fabrications

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    Sustainable production methods for polymer membrane fabrication are gaining attention due to concerns about the toxicity of conventional fossil-derived solvents in the production process. In addition, the promotion of using chemicals from renewable source for synthesis processes among industries and researches has increased to decelerate resource depletion. As such, more benign and bio-renewable solvents, dihydrolevoglucosenone (Cyrene™) and 2-methyltetrahydrofuran (2-MeTHF), have been proposed as replacements for traditional fossil-derived solvents, n-hexane and dimethylformamide (DMF). In this work, a life cycle assessment (LCA) was employed to quantitatively evaluate the environmental impacts of using the aforementioned bio-renewable solvents versus fossil-derived solvents for fabricating 1 g of polymer membrane. The analysis adopted a cradle-to-gate perspective and assessed three endpoint impact categories: Human health, Ecosystems and Resources. Despite lower environmental impacts for producing bio-renewable solvents, using such solvents to fabricate membranes displayed a higher environmental impact score in all endpoint categories. This discrepancy was attributed to the lower yield of the membrane fabrication process when using bio-based solvents. This indicated that further work is needed to optimise membrane fabrication so that the benefits of using bio-based solvents can be maximised
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