Synthesis and modification of polymers by reactive extrusion

REX - extrusión reactiva

Reactive extrusion (REX) is based on the use of an extruder as a continuous chemical reactor to perform several standard processes in the polymer industry in a single step, including polymer synthesis and modification, as well as additivation, reinforcement and removal of volatile by-products. The result is a tailor-made material suitable for further processing in a range of transformation processes, such as plastic injection moulding and extrusion.

One of the advantages of reactive extrusion is that reactions are performed without solvents or with a minimal amount compared to traditional batch polymerization processes. The result is a considerable reduction in costs and emissions, thus making the process more sustainable.

Reactive extrusion is suitable for fast reactions that do not require very long residence times (< 15-20 min).

REX applications in the plastics industry

REX is used in the plastics industry in a number of different applications:

  • Synthesis of biopolyesters, e.g. polylactic acid (PLA), polycaprolactone (PCL), polyglycolide (PGA) and their copolymers.
  • Synthesis of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and polyamide 6 (PA 6).
  • Grafting and functionalization reactions, e.g. functionalization of polyolefins with maleic anhydride and acrylic monomers (PE-g-MAH, PP-g-MAH, PE-g-AA, PE-g-GMA).
  • Reactive compatibilization of polymer blends and compounds  to obtain materials with improved properties.
  • Cross-linking reactions, formulation of thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPV).
  • Controlled degradation of polymers; polypropylene, polyamides and polyesters.
  • Chemical recycling of polyamides, polyesters and polyurethanes.
  • Esterification and saponification reactions.

Reactive extrusion solutions

AIMPLAS offers the following reactive extrusion solutions:

  • Laboratory scale technical feasibility study of batch processes using a micro-extruder (5-10 g/batch) and torque rheometer (30-300 g/batch).
  • Tailor-made design and scale-up of continuous reactive extrusion processes using a co-rotating twin-screw extruder (output: 3-10 kg/h).
  • Complete characterization of materials obtained at our facilities.
  • Direct on-site assistance at the company’s facilities during work in progress.
  • Technology transfer service and support for industrial scale-up.

Other services

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Belén Monje

Tecnología Química