The laboratory facilities are instrumented, monitored and controlled using state-of-the-art equipment. A consortium of software and industrial partners provided substantial contributions towards the equipment, infrastructure and research support.
The laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities valuable in production and characterization of a variety of polymeric materials.
The polymerization reactor facilities comprise of:
- 5 L acketed stirred tank reactor (STR)
- 1 L jacketed stirred tank reactor (STR)
- 2 Julabo heating circulators to provide heating/cooling to the reactor via the jacket and heating/cooling coils
- 6 PLC controlled dosing pumps to provide controlled doses of monomers, surfactants, initiators, etc to the reactor
- 4 precision balances to measure quantities consumed
- 6 RTDs for precision temperature mmeasurements
The laboratory is provided with a Honeywell C200 industry-standard controller supported by Honeywell PlantScape DCS. The control configuration schemes are supported by a Control Builder (Honeywell PlantScape r500.1) suite. The flow controllers, thermal transducers, analogue inputs/outputs, digital outputs and the 4-port serial to Ethernet converter are interfaced to the Honeywell system. The RTDs are used measure temperatures within the reactors, the jackets and heating/cooling coils. The Ethernet converter is used for transmitting signals from the input/output devices to the controller.
The reactor systems are controlled in conjunction with Inferential Model Predictive Control algorithms. An intelligent control hierarchy has been formulated incorporating multiple layers of supervisory control via expert system, offline optimization, on-line MPC and regulatory control successively.
Particle Size Distribution (PSD)
The hydro-dynamically based particle analyzer (HDC, PL-PSDA) is used for the measurement of average particle size and particle size distribution in complex mixtures. The instrument provides accurate distribution measurements of nano-sized particles (2-5000 nm).
Molecular Weight Distribution (MWD)
Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC) for the measurement of average molar mass, molar mass distribution and molecular radius of gyration of polymeric and biological materials.
Differential Scanning Calorimetry
The Seiko EXSTAR6000 Disk Station controls the differential scanning calorimeter (DSC 220C). These modules allow complete testing of polymer and composite properties over a wide range of temperatures. Further, this equipment enables rapid development of optimized processing conditions for materials without the need for full scale processing.
The DSC enables the determination of the melt, crystallization and glass transition of materials, as well as the heat capacity. The DSC 220C is designed to provide automatic heating and cooling measurements. Temperatures ranging from -150C to +725C are possible, with heating rates programmable from 0.01 - 100C/min. The DSC system offers a direct way to observe self-assembly and phase transitions in lipid, surfactant, polymer and protein systems. Through comparison between the sample and a reference system, melting and other transitions in a range of systems may be monitored.
Thermo Gravimetric Analysis (TG/DTA)
The TG/DTA enables the precise simultaneous measurement of weight change, while indicating critical transitions, such as the glass transition. The TG/DTA has a temperature range from room temperature to 1100C, and covers a range of application areas.
Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA)
For simultaneous measurement of thermal transition temperatures and mechanical properties (available through Mechanical Engineering, University of Sydney).
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)
For determination of polymeric material chemical structure, composition and chemical chain sequence (available through Biochemistry, University of Sydney).
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
For the determination of physical material structure (available through The Electron Microscope Unit (EMU), University of Sydney).