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Keywords:

  • emulsion polymerization;
  • miniemulsion;
  • mechanisms;
  • modeling;
  • online monitoring and control;
  • structure-property relations

Abstract

Emulsion polymers are “products by process” whose main properties are determined during polymerization. In this scenario of margins reduction, increasing competition, and public sensitivity to environmental issues, the challenge is to achieve an efficient production of high-quality materials in a consistent, safe, and environmentally friendly way. This highlight reviews the investigations carried out at The University of the Basque Country to develop a knowledge-based strategy to achieve these goals. First, the research in fundamental mechanisms is discussed. This includes studies in radical entry and exit, oil-soluble initiators, propagation-rate constants of acrylic monomers, processes involved in the formation of branched and crosslinked polymers, microstructure modification by postreaction operations, the formation of particle morphology, and reactive surfactants. The advanced mathematical models developed in the group are also reviewed. In the second part, the advances in process development (optimization, online monitoring and control, monomer removal, production of high-solids, low-viscosity latices, and process intensification) are presented. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem 42: 1025–1041, 2004