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RESEARCH PROFILE

Associate Professor Dr. Khamphee Phomphrai

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
School of Molecular Science and Engineering
Tel. 033014151
Email khamphee.p@vistec.ac.th

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Polyolefin Synthesis: the Catalyst Development

 

Research Overview

Catalysis is the heart of all chemical industry involving multi-billion dollar investment. We have developed novel homogeneous catalysts used in the polymerization of industrially important monomers. In this work, polyolefins are of interest. Being the world’s most used plastic commodities, intense academic and industrial research has been carried out worldwide. Using the single-site catalyst design, we are able to optimize activity and selectivity through systematic ligand modification of the catalysts.

Molecular Catalysis: Development for Better Catalysts

Catalysis has been the forefront of chemical industry for century. The development of better, faster, controllable and robust catalysts is an endless task leading to safer, greener, cheaper, and more reliable processes. The catalyst development is crucial for materials design allowing a preparation of materials with novel properties. Our research focuses on the development of homogeneous catalysts for industrially important polymers and chemicals using molecular design of the catalysts that allows a precise control of polymer architecture and reaction mechanism. With this concept in mind, the synthesis of polyolefins having designed microstructure and properties is now possible through the catalyst optimization.

Molecular Catalysis: Development for Better Catalysts

Catalysis has been the forefront of chemical industry for century. The development of better, faster, controllable and robust catalysts is an endless task leading to safer, greener, cheaper, and more reliable processes. The catalyst development is crucial for materials design allowing a preparation of materials with novel properties. Our research focuses on the development of homogeneous catalysts for industrially important polymers and chemicals using molecular design of the catalysts that allows a precise control of polymer architecture and reaction mechanism. With this concept in mind, the synthesis of polyolefins having designed microstructure and properties is now possible through the catalyst optimization.

Plastics: the Necessity of Life

Plastics have been a part of the human necessity in every-day life. Most activity has to involve plastics one way or another. As a result, plastics were produced over 310 million tonnes worldwide in the year 2014 alone. Polyolefins such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS) are of great interest as the world’s most widely used synthetic commodity polymers. Polyolefins exhibit notable properties; they are flexible, chemically stable, and recyclable. Thus, they have found uses in a very wide range of applications, for example, in food packaging, plastic films, bottles and industrial products. Due to their broad applications, the world’s consumption of polyolefins is more than 110 million tons per year.


 


Polyethylene structure

Catalyst Development

Polyolefins have been used extensively during the past decades. We are interested in the development of new homogeneous catalyst systems having superior performance that can tailor the properties of the polymers. The ligand design is very crucial to the molecular manipulation of the polymer architecture. Both ligands L1 and L2 can be modified and the catalysts be programmed to perform the designed tasks such as high activity, selectivity for one monomer over the other in copolymers, preferences for broad or narrow molecular weight distributions. These differences of microstructures will translate into different physical properties.

Single-site catalyst design is used in the development of catalysts for the olefin polymerization. Because there is only one catalytic site, it allows a systematic modification and optimization of the catalysts’ activity and selectivity.



 

Selected Publications

  1. Manz T. A., Caruthers J. M., Sharma S., Phomphrai K., Thomson K. T., Delgass W. N., Abu-Omar M. M. Organometallics 31, 602-618 (2012).
  2. Manz T. A., Sharma S., Phomphrai K., Novstrup K. A., Fenwick A. E., Fanwick P. E., Medvedev G. A., Abu-Omar M. M., Delgass W. N., Thomson K. T., Caruthers J. M. Organometallics 27, 5504–5520 (2008).
  3. Manz T. A., Phomphrai K., Medvedev G., Krishnamurthy B. B., Sharma S., Haq J., Novstrup K. A., Thomsona K. T., Delgass W. N., Caruthers J. M., Abu-Omar M. M. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 129, 3776-3777 (2007).
  4. Phomphrai K., Fenwick A. E., Sharma S., Fanwick P. E., Caruthers J. M., Delgass W. N., Abu-Omar M. M., Rothwell I. P Organometallics 25, 214-220 (2006).
 

Research Group Members:

Dr. Khamphee Phomphrai
Dr. Srisuda Patamma
Dr. Phonpimon Wongmahasirikun
Dr. Sucheewin Chotchatchawankul
Ms. Parichat Piromjitpong
Ms. Siriwan Praban
Mr. Phongnarin Chumsaeng
Ms. Jiraya Kiriratnikom
Mr. Pisanu Pisitsopon
Mr. Arnut Virachotikul
Ms. Kwanchanok Udomsasporn
Ms. Thasanaporn Ungpittagul