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Design and Optimisation of a Microwave Reactor for Kilo-Scale Polymer Synthesis

Buttress, A.J.; Hargreaves, G.; Ilchev, A.; Monti, T.; Sklavounou, A.; Katrib, J.; Martin-Tanchereau, P.; Unthank, M.G.; Irvine, D.J.; Dodds, C.D.


A.J. Buttress

G. Hargreaves

A. Ilchev

T. Monti

A. Sklavounou

J. Katrib

P. Martin-Tanchereau

M.G. Unthank

D.J. Irvine

C.D. Dodds


Adam Buttress


Current industrial production of polymer resins is generally undertaken in large multi-tonne stirred tank reactors. These are characterised by relatively slow heating and cooling cycles, resulting in long vessel cycle times and extended production campaigns. In this work we present a design for a hybrid microwave/oil jacket proof of concept system capable of producing up to 4.1 kg of polymer resin per batch. By exploiting rapid volumetric heating effects of microwave energy at 2.45GHz, we have optimised the synthetic regime, such that a 3.7 kg batch of polyester resin pre-polymer can be made in only 8 hours 20 minutes , with higher molecular weight (Mn 2,100) compared to the conventional process taking 22 hours 15 minutes (Mn 1,200), yielding an increase in synthesis rate of at least 265%. The increase in polymer molecular weight also suggests a higher conversion was achieved over a shorter time scale. 2

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 1, 2019
Print ISSN 0009-2509
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Issue 1
Article Number 100022
Series ISSN ISSN: 2590-1400
APA6 Citation Buttress, A., Hargreaves, G., Ilchev, A., Monti, T., Sklavounou, A., Katrib, J., …Dodds, C. (2019). Design and Optimisation of a Microwave Reactor for Kilo-Scale Polymer Synthesis. Chemical Engineering Science, 2(1),
Keywords Microwave; Volumetric Heating; Polyester; Batch Reactor
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