Polymerization processes

NAME OF THE COURSE Polymerization processes



Year of study


Course teacher

Prof Matko Erceg

Credits (ECTS)


Associate teachers

Type of instruction (number of hours)






Status of the course


Percentage of application of e-learning

0 %


Course objectives

- knowledge about mechanisms of polymerization reactions (step-growth and chain growth) and their technological implementation
- ability to work in the production facilities and/or laboratories
- understanding the importance of polymers in modern society

Course enrolment requirements and entry competences required for the course


Learning outcomes expected at the level of the course (4 to 10 learning outcomes)

After passing the exam the student is expected to:
- differentiate the basic types of polymers
- differentiate the basic polymerization reaction
- explain the basic parameters of the polymerization processes
- explain which commodity polymers are obtained by which polymerization reaction
- to perform selected polymerization reaction at laboratory scale
- conclude about the importance of polymers in modern society
- use the acquired knowledge in engineering practice

Course content broken down in detail by weekly class schedule (syllabus)

1st week: introduction, the historical development of synthetic polymers, nomenclature, types of polymers, world production of polymers, polymer applications.
2nd week: the production of monomers (from non-renewable and renewable resources). Polymerization reactions: step-growth and chain reactions.
3rd week: step-growth polymerization - characteristics, mechanism, kinetics, Carothers equation.
4th week: the average molecular weight - definition, types. Molecular weight distribution in step-growth polymerization. Step-growth copolymerization.
5th week: thermoplastic polymers of step-growth polymerization: polyesters (poly(ethylene terephthalate), polycarbonate), polyamides (aliphatic, aromatic), polyimides, polysulfones, polyurethanes.
6th week: thermoset polymers of step-growth polymerization: unsaturated polyesters, alkyd polymers, formaldehyde polymers, epoxies.
7th week: repetition, discussion, conclusions. Continuous assessment (the first colloquium).
8th week: chain polymerization - characteristics Radical polymerization - initiators, mechanism, kinetics. Radical copolymerization - types of copolymers, kinetics.
9th week: polymers of radical polymerization and copolymerization: polyethylenes and copolymers, polystyrene and copolymers, poly(vinyl chloride), acrylic polymers.
10th week: anionic polymerization - catalysts, mechanism, kinetics. Anionic ”living” polymerization. Anionic polymers: copolymers of butadiene and styrene, polysiloxanes.
11th week: cationic polymerization: catalysts, mechanism, kinetics. Cationic ”living” polymerization. Cationic polymers: polyoxymethylene, polyisobutene, poly(tetrahydrofurane) .
12th week: coordination (stereospecific) polymerization and copolymerization - catalysts, mechanism, kinetics. A coordination polymers: polypropylene, polyisoprene, polybutadiene, ethylene/propylene/diene copolymer.
13th week: the technical implementation of polymerization processes: homogeneous polymerization processes (in mass, in solution) and heterogeneous polymerization processes (in mass, in solution, in the gas phase, suspension polymerization, emulsion polymerization, interfacial polycondensation)
14th week: the industrial plants for production of commodity polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene, poly(vinyl chloride), polystyrene and poly(ethylene terephthalate))
15th week: final lecture, discussion, conclusions. Continuous assessment (the second colloquium).
Laboratory exercises:
Exercise 1. Synthesis of phenol-formaldehyde resin.
Exercise 2. Polyesterification of adipic acid with diethylene glycol.
Exercise 3. Synthesis of modified alkyd resin.
Exercise 4. Suspension polymerization of styrene.
Exercise 5. Emulsion polymerization of vinyl acetate.
Exercise 6. Preparation of poly(vinyl alcohol ) by alcoholysis of poly(vinyl acetate).
Exercise 7. Synthesis of polyamide 610 by interfacial polymerization

Format of instruction:

Student responsibilities

Attending lectures in the 80% amount, and laboratory exercises in the 100% amount of the total number of lessons.

Screening student work (name the proportion of ECTS credits for eachactivity so that the total number of ECTS credits is equal to the ECTS value of the course):

Class attendance




Practical training


Experimental work







Seminar essay






Oral exam




Written exam






Grading and evaluating student work in class and at the final exam

Continuous evaluation:
The entire exam can be passed over two colloquium during the semester. Pass threshold for each colloquium is 50%. Each colloquium participates with 35% in a final grade. Laboratory exercises (50-100% success) participate with 20% in a final grade, while attending lectures in 80-100% amount is 10% of a final grade.
Final evaluation:
One passed colloquium (previous activity) is recognized as 10% of a final grade. The remaining part is taken on written and oral exam at prescribed examination terms. Written exam accounts for 30%, oral exam for 40%, while laboratory exercises account for 20% of a final grade, respectively.
Students who did not take or pass colloquiums take written and oral exam at prescribed examination terms. Passing threshold is 50%. Written exam accounts for 40%, oral exam for 40%, while laboratory exercises account for 20% of a final grade, respectively.
Grades definitions and percentages: sufficient (50-61%), good (62-74%), very good (75-87%), excellent (88-100%).

Required literature (available in the library and via other media)


Number of copies in the library

Availability via other media

Z. Janović, Polimerizacije i polimeri, Hrvatsko društvo kemijskih inženjera i tehnologa, Zagreb, 1997.


Web stranice KTF-a

R. O. Ebewele, Polymer Science and Technology, CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, 2000.


H. Ulrich, Introduction to Industrial Polymers, Hanser, Munich, 1992.


Optional literature (at the time of submission of study programme proposal)

S. R. Stanley, W. Karo, J. Bonesteel, E. M. Pearce, Polymer Synthesis and Characterization: A Laboratory Manual, Academic Press, San Diego, 1998.

Quality assurance methods that ensure the acquisition of exit competences

- monitoring of students suggestions and reactions during semester
- students evaluation organized by University

Other (as the proposer wishes to add)