Polymer Reaction Engineering Tools to Tailor Smart and Superabsorbent Hydrogels

  • Catarina P. Gomes
  • Rolando C. S. DiasEmail author
  • Mário Rui P. F. N. Costa
Living reference work entry

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Part of the Polymers and Polymeric Composites: A Reference Series book series (POPOC)


Experimental and theoretical tools to describe and tailor polymer network formation processes are here addressed. Although a special emphasis is given to the synthesis, characterization, and applications of smart and superabsorbent polymers, other networks with higher cross-linker contents are also prospected. Purely synthetic and cellulose-based hydrogels are both considered in this research. The reactor type (e.g., batch or continuous flow micro-reactor), polymerization process (e.g., bulk, inverse suspension, or precipitation polymerization), and polymerization mechanism (e.g., classic free radical polymerization or reversible deactivation radical polymerization RDRP) are highlighted as possible tools to change the morphology and the molecular architecture of polymer networks and hydrogels. The tailoring of cellulose-synthetic hybrid materials is also addressed through the use of RAFT-mediated polymer grafting. Case studies showing the applications of the synthesized materials are presented, namely, molecularly imprinted hydrogel particles for retention of aminopyridines, molecularly imprinted polymers for polyphenols, caffeine or 5-fluorouracil selective uptake/release, as well as modified cellulose adsorbents for polyphenol retention. Cellulose-based hydrogels are also considered as possible vehicles for polyphenol-controlled release. The mechanisms of liberation of polyphenols from these materials are analyzed, namely, when supercritical CO2 is used in the hydrogel impregnation process.


Polymer networks Hydrogels Cellulose Modeling RAFT polymerization Molecular imprinting Controlled release 



Parts of this work are a result of project “AIProcMat@N2020 – Advanced Industrial Processes and Materials for a Sustainable Northern Region of Portugal 2020,” with the reference NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000006, supported by Norte Portugal Regional Operational Programa (NORTE 2020), under the Portugal 2020 Partnership Agreement, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and of Project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006984 – Associate Laboratory LSRE-LCM funded by ERDF through COMPETE2020 (Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (POCI)) – and by national funds through FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia). We also acknowledge the contribution of the master student Gayane Sadoyan in the framework of the thesis “Development of amphiphilic adsorbents for the stimulated uptake and release of polyphenols.”


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catarina P. Gomes
    • 1
  • Rolando C. S. Dias
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mário Rui P. F. N. Costa
    • 2
  1. 1.LSRE and Centro de Investigação de Montanha (CIMO)Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Campus de Santa ApolóniaBragançaPortugal
  2. 2.LSRE-Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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