Doctoral candidate Mengfei Huang of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst was lead author of the article that won the most outstanding technical paper award at the Eastern Coatings Show, held on May 14 and 15 in Atlantic City. The team of six authors from ChE and Sirrus Inc. of Loveland, Ohio, describes research that provides a novel, simple, and facile method to synthesize crosslinkable emulsion polymers and polymer dispersions for coatings, adhesives, and other applications.
The winning paper depicts the synthesis of high-performance, ultraviolate, curable, crosslinked coating films that provide enhanced mechanical strength, water/solvent-resistance, good abrasion, and high barrier properties. All of these desirable factors are deficient in thermoplastic coatings.
In addition to Mengfei Huang, the other authors of the winning paper include Yuan Liu, John Klier, and Jessica Schiffman of the ChE department, and Aniruddha Palsule and Mark Holzer of Sirrus Inc. The paper’s official title is “Synthesis of High-Performance UV Curable Crosslinked Coating Films via Grafting of HEMA Functionalized Methylene Malonates.”
According to the winning paper’s abstract, the two factors of high performance and fast curing, when combined with environmentally-friendly properties, are becoming important considerations in the design of water-based coatings. In this context, ultraviolet- (or UV) curable technologies may provide low levels of volatile organic compounds, fast reaction speed, and room temperature curing properties.
“To deliver these features,” as the authors say, “we propose the synthesis of next-generation, UV-curable, water-based emulsion polymers and polymer dispersions that combine traditional emulsion polymer chemistry with grafted methacrylate functional groups to provide high densities of UV curing sites.”
The authors add that methylidene malonate, a newly-synthesized monomer that undergoes anionic polymerization at room temperature and atmospheric conditions, provides simple and facile covalent grafting of latex particles. “Novel hydroxyethyl (HEMA)-functional methylidene malonate monomers provide the facile introduction of a high density of pendent HEMA groups onto latex particles.”
According to the authors, “The resulting HEMA-functional emulsion polymers undergo facile free-radical polymerization through the pendant vinyl groups via UV initiation to form crosslinked network. The resulting UV-curable coating films fully crosslink under UV light (365 nm, 4´40 W) and show high mechanical strength and solvent-resistant properties.”
The winning paper was recognized as part of the Pflaumer Honors for Innovation awards, presented at the Eastern Coatings Show, the largest coatings show in the East Coast. Pflaumer Brothers Inc. of Ewing, New Jersey, sponsored the awards to honor and recognize the two top technical papers presented at the show. (June 2019)