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RESEARCHERS AND PROFESSORS

Timothy MCKENNA

Directeur de Recherche
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Research Themes

 

 

 

My research is in the field of polymer reaction engineering - in other words the application of chemical engineering tools to further the understanding of how polymerisations work, and how the process and the chemistry interact to give us the useful products that are so important to everyday life.

The important point to remember here is that the rate at which polymer chains grow, the composition that they develop over the course of polymerisation, and their structure in general depend on local concentrations of active centres and/or monomers, the local temperature etc.  So any parameters that changes these factors (and others) in the reactor, either as a function of time, or even spatially, can effect the final characteristics of the polymer.  This includes (but is not limited to) the type of reactor (i.e. the residence time distribution), the quality of mixing, viscosity changes, heat and mass transfer... and so on.

Current Projects

My research activity is divided more or less equally between two main themes:  emulsion polymerization and the polymerization of olefins on supported catalysts.

In the field of emulsion polymerization, focus has been on developing fundamental understanding of particle formation, stablisation and coagulation, and kinetics.  We have used this fundamental science to develop strategies for producing high solid content, low viscosity latexes.  In collaboration with Nida Sheibat-Othman of the LAGEPP we have recently worked on modelling the particle size distribution of different emulsion polymerisations. 

Most recently we have extended our interested to the emulsion polymerisation of halogenated monomers under pressure, with our main focus on PVC, and more extensively, PVDF systems.  In January of 2021, we have established a CNRS Joint Laboratory with Arkema to study the processes and chemistry of the emulsion polymerisation of VDF for new applications, including for use in Li-ion batteries.  For more information on this, visit the iHub-Poly9 research page.

In terms of the reaction engineering of polyolefins, my work initially focused on heat and mass transfer in growing polymer particles, and developing models that allowed us to describe particle growth to take into consideration the evolution of particle morphology.  Our more recent work has led us to study the impact of the highly non-ideal sorption present in olefin polymerisation systems, particularly in gas phase proceses operating in condensed mode. Along with my colleagues in the CP2M, we have aquired a number of interesting reactors for the gas and slurry phase polymerisation of ethylene and propylene, and have even developed novel stopped flow reactors to better understand the nascent phase of polymerisation.  

Partners, Links and Extras

My research group currently includes:

  • Mr. Niyi Ishola who is working on the impact of induced condensing agents on homo- and copolymerisation of ethylene, as well as on their influence on the nascent stages of polymerisation.  Niyi's project is sponsored by the Petroleum Technology Fund of Nigeria.
  • Ms. Roberta Lopes do Rosario whose project is on understanding the impact of polymer swelling on chain entanglement of ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene, and on the development of a gas phase process to make disentangle UHMWPE.  She is sponsored by the Dutch Polymer Institute.
  • Mr. Felipe Morais Bolner.  Felipe is cosupervised with my colleagues Drs. Jean Raynaud and Vincent Monteil, and is working on process optimisation of iron-based Ziegler-Natta polymerisations.  Felipe was awarded a doctoral contract by the Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche, et de l'Innovation.
  • Mr. Abdulrahman Al-Beladi who is working on the enhanced understanding of laboratory scale gas phase polymerisation of propylene.  He is sponsored by SABIC.
  • Ms. Kusuma Kulajanpeng, who is sponsored by SCG to work on the advanced modelling of gas phase PP reactors.  Kusuma is cosupervised with my colleague Dr Nida Sheibat-Othman of the LAGEPP.
  • Mr. Igor Stefanichen Monteiro.  Igor is working on the ANR project CLEANPOLY and is studying the stability of PVC latexes in emulsion polymerisation.
  • Ms. Estela Gelinski, who is also working on the ANR project CLEANPOLY to study the kinetics and stabilisation of VDF in emulsion polymerisation.
  • Ms. Mariana Guadalupe Torres.  Mariana has a CIFRE scholarship, sponsored by Arkema, and is working on high solid content PVDF latexes as part of the iHub-Poly9 project.

Other projects and groups that I am interested in include:

Lyon Polymer Science and Engineering (LPSE), a pole of expertise that brings together several large and small polymer producers to share knowledge, develop new projects and promote polymer science and engineering in Lyon.

I coordinate a Linkedin group POLYOLEFIN REACTION ENGINEERING, intened to share recent developments in the field of the same name.  If you are interested, click on the previous link and just ask to join!

How to join us?

Mailing address

43 Bd du 11 Nov. 1918
(B. P. 82007)
69616 Villeurbanne CEDEX FRANCE

Contact details

+33 (0)4 72 43 17 67 (team PCM)
+33 (0)4 72 43 17 94 (team MMAGICC)
+33 (0)4 72 43 17 56 (Communication)

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