Thermoplastic polyolefins like polyethylene are unreactive, non-functional materials. The introduction of functional and or reactive groups on polyolefins is a challenge to produce building blocks for further polymerisation and new specialty materials , for applications in cosmetics, plastics, adhesives, coatings, chemistry, etc.
*State of the art
The actual challenges resides in the lack of reactivity of polyolefins, limiting the functionalisation potential, and on the production costs associated with classical methods. Functional polyolefins are classically obtained by post-polymerisation, requiring a longer synthetic route, or by living-polymerisation, requiring one catalyst per polymer chain and thus inducing larger production costs.
New polyethylene building blocks with end or lateral functionalities have been developed with an innovative process allowing the introduction of multiple functionalities in a one-pot reaction.
The polymerisation process is catalytic, presenting the advantage of producing a large number of chains per catalyst, for a reduced cost production. The process has been scaled-up at kilogram scale with tunable molar mass control.
These new specialty polyolefins allow the combination of commodity polymer advantages (low cost, low toxicity) with the added value provided by the new functionalities. The versatility of functions developed allows the introduction of new physico-chemical properties to materials: non-polarity, crystallinity or thermal properties can thus be introduced on apparently incompatible materials.
This new technology is carried by a French Trechnology Transfer Office (TTO) working with researchers from the local university.
Partners from chemical industry are sought for license agreements. Within the agreements there are opportunities for further development and commercial use.