Kinetic Modeling and Process Digitalization for Industrial Innovation of High-End Polymer Products

Shiping Zhu

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, 518172, China

EXTENDED ABSTRACT: Chemical engineering deals with production and processing of materials and chemicals in safe, sustainable, and profitable ways. Polymer reaction engineering bridges lab discovery of recipes to industrial production of goods through design, optimization, and control of processes. Polymers are macromolecules that have thousands of small molecules (termed as monomers) linked together in chains by covalent bonds. Polymer materials properties are determined to a large extent by chain microstructures, such as molecular weight distribution, composition distribution, sequence distribution, tacticity, and topology etc. Polymers are not only the products of chemical recipes but also polymerization processes. A slight difference in polymerization process could make a huge difierence in the polymer product, even with a same chemical recipe. At-will-as-wish production of polymers having precisely designed and controlled chain microstructures represents a key in the industrial innovation of high-end polymer products. Kinetic modeling and process digitalization provide a powerful tool serving the purpose. Presented are several research examples and industrial applications, including long-chain-branched metallocene polyethylene (PE) for the best combination of melt strength and processability, fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) having uniform composition and molecular weight upgraded via model­based semi-batch feeding policies, and computer-programed reactor technology for controlled gradient copolymers, as well as some viewpoints of disciplinary construction for polymer materials science and engineering.

Keywordspolymer; reaction engineering; kinetic modeling, process digitalization, high-end product, product upgrading

Brief Introduction of Speaker
Shiping Zhu

Shiping Zhu graduated from Zhejiang University China in 1982 and received Ph.D. from McMaster University Canada in 1991. He joined McMaster as a faculty member in 1994 and served as Department Chair of Chemical Engineering during 2009-2014. He is currently a Vice President of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen. Dr. Zhu's research is in the areas of chemical engineering, polymer reaction engineering, kinetic modeling and process digitalization, catalytic polymerization of olefins, controlled radical polymerization, and smart polymer materials. He has trained over 130 postgraduates and published more than 400 refereed journal papers. Dr. Zhu was elected as Fellow to Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2010, to Royal Society of Canada in 2014, to TWAS in 2020. He was bestowed the highest title of Distinguished University Professor at McMaster University in 2015, and received the premier chemical engineering award in Canada, RS Jane Memorial Award, in 2016.