Polymer degradation and stability

A.Y. 2021/2022
6
Max ECTS
48
Overall hours
SSD
CHIM/04
Language
English
Learning objectives
TO EXPLAIN:
- the degradation phenomena affecting a polymer or a polymeric material (composite and nanocomposite) during the different phases of its life: from synthesis to processing/transformation and disposal;
- the degradation mechanisms in different scenarios due to heat, fire, UV-light, ionizing radiations, and mechanical stress, and indispensable stabilization processes;
- the influence of these phenomena on the physico-chemical properties of a specific polymer.
TO DESCRIBE:
- the main traditional and advanced analytical methods for assessing the degradation phenomena of polymeric materials.
TO DEFINE:
- the recycle, reuse, feedstock and energy recovery as key factors in the Circular Economy of polymeric materials;
- biopolymers and bioplastics and the environmental implications of the biodegradability and composting of polymers;
- the microplastics in the environment.
Expected learning outcomes
Students will be able:
- to identify the degradation phenomena affecting the chemical stability and the resulting physical properties of polymeric materials during the different phases of their life: from synthesis to processing/transformation and disposal;
- to explain the degradation mechanisms in different scenarios due to heat, atmosphere, fire, UV-light, ionizing radiations, and mechanical stress, and indispensable stabilization processes;
- to describe and critically discuss the results collected by the main traditional and advanced analytical methods for assessing the degradation phenomena of polymeric materials.
- to explain the advantages and disadvantages of fossil-based plastics with respect to bioplastics;
- to discuss the existence of microplastics in the environment in a critical manner as an example of polymer degradation not monitored by society.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Responsible
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/2022 will be provided over coming months, based on the public health situation.
Course syllabus
The program of course focuses on three macro-topics:
· Macro-topic 1: The LIFE-CYCLE OF POLYMERS:
Contents: From synthesis to disposal. Mechanical properties of polymeric materials. Polymer composites. Polymer nanocomposites. Polymeric coatings.

· Macro-topic 2: The SERVICE LIFE OF POLYMERS.
Contents: Polymer degradation due to heat, oxygen, fire, light, ionizing radiations, mechanical stress. Traditional and advanced analytical methods for assessing the degradation phenomena affecting polymers (namely, thermal degradation and oxidation, combustion, and ageing). The case study of the degradation and conservation of works of art.

· Macro-topic 3: The END-LIFE OF POLYMERS.
Contents: The EU waste hierarchy. Fossil-based vs. bio-based plastics. Microplastics in the environment: the fate of not-restrained polymer degradation.
Prerequisites for admission
The course is intended for students who have attended fundamental courses in chemistry and industrial chemistry, and with some bases in polymer science, and for students who plan to acquire advanced knowledge on the degradation phenomena affecting a polymeric material during the different phases of its life, from the synthesis, to the processing and transformation in plastics, the use (service-life), until the disposal (end-life).
Prerequisites: basic knowledge of organic and physical chemistry, polymer chemistry and science.
Teaching methods
Frontal lessons with the aid of slides (power point presentations) and audio-visual systems (videos).
Teaching Resources
o Each lesson will be available in the form of a downloadable pdf file.
o Videos dedicated to each topic covered during the course.
o Scientific papers, including reviews, as downloadable pdf files, on specific topics for every lesson. In fact, the last slide of each presentation will be dedicated to the list of available bibliographic references.
o Useful links for videos dedicated to the testing of polymers in different scenarios, interviews to academic and industrial experts.
o "Thermal degradation of polymeric materials" of Krzysztof Pielichowski and James Njuguna, edited by Rapra Technology (2005).
o "Fire Retardancy of polymeric materials" of A.R. Horrocks and D. Price, edited by CRC Press (2013).
o "Polymer Photodegradation: Mechanisms and Experimental Methods" of Jan F. Rabek, edited by Chapman & Hall (1985).
o "Handbook of Biodegradable Polymers. Synthesis, Characterization and Applications" of A. Lendlein and A. Sisson, edited by Wiley (2011).
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam will consist of an oral interview lasting 30-35 minutes. The calendar with the dates of the various sessions will be published on the University system.
The score will vary between 18 and 30 out of 30 and will be proportional to the number of correct answers.
The oral interview will aim to ascertain the achievement of the expected learning outcomes in terms of knowledge and understanding. The evaluation criteria will focus on the student's ability to answer open short answer questions (DRAB) on all the topics covered in the course. In particular, the evaluation criteria will focus on the ability of the Student: to provide general definitions concerning polymer degradation; to identify and describe a specific scenario causing polymer degradation; to illustrate the basics of an analytical technique for studying a specific degradation scenario; to discuss a case study concerning a specific degradation scenario in a critical manner; to analyse a specific problem concerning polymer degradation and provide suitable stabilisation solutions for avoiding this phenomenon.
CHIM/04 - INDUSTRIAL CHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Professor: Alongi Jenny
Educational website(s)
Professor(s)
Reception:
Office hours by appointment
Building 5, Body B, 3rd floor, room 3051