Environmentally-responsible materials processing is becoming an important global consideration in a wide variety of technologies, especially those wherein volatile and/or residual organic solvents cannot be tolerated. In this context, polymer processing has benefited tremendously from advances achieved using high-pressure CO2 as a viscosity modifier, plasticizing agent, foaming agent, and reaction medium. Pressurized CO2 is environmentally benign, inexpensive, sustainable, and versatile owing to its gas-like viscosity and liquid-like solubility, which can be tuned through judicious choice of temperature and pressure. The addition of high-pressure CO2 to homopolymer blends and block copolymers can have a profound impact on polymer thermodynamics and kinetic processes since the number of interacting species increases. As a result, the compressibility as well as plasticization and intermolecular screening effects become non-negligible. In this work, we review how these factors influence such polymeric systems, and discuss commercial polymer processes and applications that benefit from the use of high-pressure CO2.
Thermodynamics and kinetic processes of polymer blends and block copolymers in the presence of pressurized carbon dioxide