774327 Chemistry and technology of polymers

Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Liebner, Falk
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


This lecture addresses students of the master courses „Wood technology and management” and “Material and Energetic Exploitation of Renewable Raw Materials”.
With regard to the material exploitation of wood or isolated biopolymers – either direct, as composites with synthetic organic polymers or after preceding homogeneous or heterogeneous modification – a secure grasp of the basics in polymer chemistry and technology is imperative for both of these courses.
Accompanied by a permanent repetition of the basics of organic chemistry and guided by a motivating interactive demonstration of practice-orientated interrelations as a key towards pleasure in chemical aspects of our daily life, this lecture imparts at the beginning on overview of the history of polymer research, the current state of plastics production and the most relevant synthetic inorganic and organic polymers, and biopolymers. After that the following topics will be introduced and discussed:

General structure, terminology and classification of polymers

Main types of polymerisation reactions – Part 1: Step-growth polymerisation: Principles, specific aspects of step-growth polymerisations, introduction of selected plastics produced by step-growth polymerisation, technological aspects and properties:

Polycondensation (e.g. polyesters, polyamides, polyimides, polycarbonates, aminoplastics, phenolic resins, urea-formaldehyde resins, melamin-fomaldehyde-resins, polyphenylensulfide, polyetheretherketone)

Silicic acid and polysiloxanes (polycondensation of inorganic and organic silica precursor compounds, silica aerogels, corrosion protection by dense films of silica particles, Müller-Rochow-synthesis of halogen silanes, synthesis of silicon oil and rubber, etc.)

Polyaddition (e.g., epoxy resins, polyurethanes)

Main types of polymerisation reactions – Part 2: Chain growth polymerisation

Radical polymerisation (Prinziple, process stages, main differences compared to step growth polymerisation reactions, discussion of the synthesis and properties of selected commercial plastics)

Ionic polymerisations (principles of anionic and cationic polymerisations; Introduction of selected plastics)

Coordination polymerisation (Ziegler-Natta catalysts, stereo regularity, tacticity of polymers, etc.)

Ring opening polymerisations

Nomenclature of polymers

Processing and shaping of polymers (thermoplastics vs. thermo-set polymers; extrusion, calendering, different types of molding, such as injection molding, spinning etc.)

Polymer morphology, amorphous, (semi)crystalline and liquid crystalline polymers: thermal and rheological properties, reasons, analysis and practical relevance of the glass transition temperature, Impact of chemical structure on glass transition, induction and determination of the degree of crystallinity, ways to design liquid-crystalline polymers, impact of the polymer processing techniques, impact of polymer structure, morphology and crystallinity on polymer processing and mechanical properties.

Design of polymers with regard to high-temperature stability, resistance towards chemicals, and fire resistance

Ageing of polymers (by chemical, thermal, and photolytic processes, X-ray or electron irradiation)

Stabilization of polymers (primary and secondary antioxidants, UV stabilizers)

Polymer recycling

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

This lecture imparts ready-to-use knowledge in the areas of organic chemistry, permanently repeated throughout the entire lecture which always makes the connections between the basic principles of organic chemistry and the synthesis of complex polymers. This lecture furthermore imparts the participant solid knowledge of the impact of the macromolecular architecture of main technical polymers on their properties and the interrelation between structure and nomenclature of polymeric compounds. The participants get in-depth knowledge about current trends of polymer application, types and properties of mass and special plastics, basic principles of the synthesis and processing of technically important thermoplastic and thermo-set plastics, as well as basic knowledge of the application-oriented design of synthetic polymers on the molecular level. Topics, such as oxidative or light-induced ageing of plastics, stabilization of plastics towards ageing through addition of additives or recycling of plastics will be discussed in a similar way. The participants of this lecture will be furthermore qualified to recognize independently important interrelationships between structure and nomenclature of polymers, and between structure and properties of polymers.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.