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New Multichannel Frontal Polymerization Strategy for Scaled-up Production of Robust Hydrogels

Li, Qing, Wang, Cai-Feng, Chen, Su
Industrial & engineering chemistry process design and development 2018 v.57 no.8 pp. 3083-3090
cost effectiveness, energy, heat, hydrogels, mechanical properties, pH, polymerization, polymers, process design, thermal stability
Herein, we report a new facile and safe pathway for the scaled-up production of mechanically strong and multiresponsive interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) hydrogels via multichannel frontal polymerization (multichannel FP). We designed a two-part system, of which part-1 contained high reactive monomer and could polymerize spontaneously. The polymerization of part-1 released tremendous amount of heat, subsequently initiating FP of part-2 to convert monomers to polymers without any external energy, which is flexible, cost-effective, and environmental. Multichannel FP not only allowed realization of parallel polymerization to obtain a number of hydrogels but also solved center overheating and explosion problem stemmed from a large reaction vessel. Compared with the sample prepared in bigger tubular reactor, product synthesized via multichannel FP showed more excellent thermal stability, morphology and mechanical properties. Moreover, the as-prepared IPN hydrogels exhibited chemical-, pH-, and thermal-sensitivity toward various external changes, which might broaden the applications of hydrogels in sensors.