First PhD to be awarded to Chongnan Ye from the hybrid research group HyBRit and University of the North


On Tuesday 17 May, UG researcher Chongnan Ye obtained his PhD for his research on new versatile polymers. Ye developed a library of sustainable dynamic polymer networks for advanced applications. Ye conducted his PhD as part of the hybrid research group HyBRit (Hybrid research group Biopolymer and Recycling Innovations), a unique partnership in the Netherlands between NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences and University of Groningen. The partnership is a result of the Universiteit van het Noorden (UvhN) partnership.

Joined forces

HyBRit, part of Campus Emmen, is one of the first concrete results of our Knowledge Agenda. This is where professionals, students (vocational education, university of applied sciences, and universities), start-ups, existing businesses, government, and institutions work together on the development and application of new knowledge, innovation, and industry. The hybrid sustainable polymers research group is working to make the chemical sector more environmentally sustainable.

Synthetic polymers are one of the most important inventions of mankind, which are often categorized into two basic categories named thermoplastics and thermosets. Thermoplastics are linear polymer chains with the capacity to be reprocessed at high temperatures. Thermoset polymers, on the other hand, are made up of chemically crosslinked networks. Owing to their different topological structure, thermosets usually outperform thermoplastics in shape stability and creep resistance, but have worse reprocessing and recyclability.

About the PhD research

With the development of covalent combinatorial chemistry, vitrimers, a group of dynamic polymer network, were first introduced by Leibler et al. in 2011. As a class of new covalent associative networks (CANs), vitrimers provide a solution to combine the best of both worlds. By including an appropriate transesterification catalyst to polyester-based epoxy resin networks, the permanent networks exhibit a gradual viscosity decrease upon heating, similar to vitreous silica, which is why the term “vitrimer” was coined.

In the last decade, vitrimers have drawn significant attention due to their recyclability, but they shouldn't be solely constrained to recycling thermosets in traditional plastic applications, like packaging, casting, and construction. Therefore, we have developed a library of sustainable dynamic polymer networks, vitrimers, for advanced applications. Owing to the synergy of dynamic covalent bond exchange reactions and employed function groups, a series of novel vitrimers were created to fit various applications, including water remediation, motion monitoring, energy harvesting and healable 3D printing.

More about the PhD

University of the North

Through the UvhN’s network, we are bundling our supreme knowledge for the development of the North by making a connection between academic and practice-oriented teaching and research focusing on themes such as the circular economy and sustainable energy. By sharing our knowledge and innovating together, we are creating knowledge clusters with new and directly applicable
supreme knowledge that impact the Northern Netherlands and beyond. These knowledge clusters will also ensure talent is retained in and attracted to the region. This way, together with the UvhN, we are investing in a vital northern region.

Article via University of Groningen