Molecular engineering of green polymer-surfactants by microfluidic SAS
This proposal seeks to investigate the phase behaviour and non-equilibrium properties of a new class of naturally-derived polymers, and their interaction with a model surfactant in solution. We will employ recent advances in microfluidics coupled with small angle neutron and x-ray scattering to enable the complex phase mapping of the parameter space, which includes polymer architecture, and concentration of both polymer and surfactant, as well as temperature. We will then employ microfluidics to interrogate non-equilibrium, flow and kinetic processes, relevant to the practical application of such polymer-surfactant complexes in emulsification and removal of immiscible fluids.
The industrial partner for this project is Procter & Gamble, a world leading formulations company, and our focus will be in the discovery of sustainable and high efficiency formulations, in terms of (i) replacing conventional polymer additives, with naturally derived polysaccharides of precise architectures and functionalities, (ii) reducing the temperature required for emulsification (e.g. in cleaning processes) and (iii) improving the efficiency of the emulsification process (thereby reducing the concentration of active ingredients), and this reduce their environmental footprint. SANS and SAXS play a key role in establishing the fundamental knowledge (beyond empirical correlations) of such model formulations, increase the agility and resilience of this multi-billion £ industry and enable the next-generation of high-performance, greener, and tailored complex fluids.