Pushing the Boundaries of Concentrated Dispersions, High Solids Content Bimodal Latex for Paper Coating Applications
Pacheco de Moraes, Raul
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New processes for the production of polymeric dispersions with high solids content and low viscosity were developed, investigated and characterized. The specifications required for the desired application of paper coating, which constitutes one of the major innovative aspects of this thesis, requires in average particle sizes smaller than 200 nm. This particle size is significantly smaller than obtained in previous work in this area. The main objective of this project was to increase the solids content of existing products from ~50 to ~60 wt% while keeping the viscosity at low levels (< 1200 mPa•s at 20 s-1). In order to produce high solids content latexes with low viscosity, bimodal particle size distributions were resorted to. To obtain highest packing fraction, the small particle size population should be about 7 times smaller than the large particles, bringing the size of the small particles to less than 30 nm. Modified (micro)emulsion processes were developed in order to produce small particle size latex with reduced surfactant concentration and increased solids content. The large particle population was developed using a semi-batch emulsion polymerization process, simulating a product that is commercially available (~52 wt% solids content and viscosity of ~500 mPa•s at 20 s-1). To increase the solids content of this product up to 60 wt%, a second population of small particles was created using two approaches. In the first approach, the small particles were generated in situ using the modified (micro)emulsion approaches developed previously. This process resulted in latexes of ~ 60% solids content and viscosities lower than 500 mPa•s at 20 s-1. In the second approach, the second population of particles was created by the addition of seeds by using small cross-linked particles as pseudo inert-fillers. This process resulted in products with ~58% solids and viscosities lower than 1400 mPa•s at 20 s-1. The slightly decreased solids content and increased viscosity relative to the previous approaches is due to the difficulty in producing cross-linked seeds with particle sizes smaller than 30 nm at an acceptable concentration, causing deviations from ideal conditions.