Polymerization optimization

The problem

Polymerization reactions are generally fast after initiation and required to be quickly quenched to avoid polymer branching or other side reactions. Polymer production requires catalysts, reactions under pressure at a high temperature, and experimentation often occurs in the gas phase. For experimental development, there are many conditions to test and monitor. Ideally those tests are performed on small scale and in parallel. Figuring out the optimal conditions for each step in the creation of a new polymer can be a huge challenge and eats up a lot of time.

The right tool for the job

Big Kahuna and Junior are automation platforms that can be configured to prepare reactions, process reaction conditions, and integrate analytical results. For scientists working in polymerization, the must-have device to have on these platforms is the Optimization Sampling Reactor (OSR).

What’s possible

What the heck is an OSR?

The OSR is an 8-channel reactor with individual pressure and temperature control. It operates at temperatures from -15 °C to 200 °C, pressures from ambient to 400 psi (27.6 bar) and working volumes of <1 – 25 mL per reaction. Reactions can be prepared in glass vials on the Big Kahuna or Junior deck. Depending on chemistry requirements and deck space, you can add solids or liquids to each reaction.

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Reactions in the OSR can start by turning on the gas line or adding catalyst through the injection port. Gas inlets are controlled so a discrete amount of your gas reagents can be added to each chamber. If you’re injecting a catalyst to kick it off, the needle bore is wide enough to pick up and transfer a slurry. Each reactor has an antechamber, so reagents can be dispensed without disrupting the conditions of the reactor. The OSR top is heated to keep your solutions in the vial. It also uses overhead stirring, so even if your solution becomes viscous after the reaction has started you can keep mixing.

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Reactions on the OSR can be stopped quickly. The software automatically monitors each reactor by individual gas uptake or time. You can quench a completed reactor with the injection arm and continue to process or initiate other reactors. And if your reaction runs a little bit slower, that injection arm does double duty as a sampling tool — taking advantage of the antechamber in the top to take a sample without disrupting the high-pressure, high-temperature reaction.



Junior automates all your back-and-forth, over and over again, hands-on work. Explore more reaction and formulation conditions, prep samples, or hand off any other tasks you think would be better performed if you’re not the one doing it.

Big Kahuna

Big Kahuna gives you automated, high-throughput, end-to-end solutions for biologics, gene therapy vectors, small molecules, polymers and catalysts. It’s completely configurable and helps you save money and time while getting more work done.


Want more info?

Every lab has different bottlenecks and challenges. We’re all about partnering with you to build the bespoke solution that lets you do science faster and better. Have questions or can’t wait to speak with our expert team to find out what might be possible?