Functionalized Doubly Porous Polymeric Materials: Design and Modeling
Polymer-based porous materials have been the subject of intense research for many years and present some important advantages over their inorganic counterparts, such as tunable mechanical properties, ease to be functionalized, and especially lower production cost. Over the last decade, materials with dual porosity have attracted a particular attention from the scientific community, as these peculiar materials offer new interesting perspectives for engineering sustainable materials. The role of each porosity level is different and associated with distinct mass transfer processes. Macropores ( 100 ̧tm) would allow macromolecules and cells flow through the material, while a nanoporous network (10-100 nm) would be dedicated to the passage of smaller molecules, thus acting as a second transport mechanism, especially when macropores are totally clogged.
The first part of this work addresses the development of versatile and effective approaches to biocompatible doubly porous poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (PHEMA)-based materials. The first approach relied on the use of two distinct types of porogen templates, i.e. a macroporogen and a nanoporogen. To generate the macroporosity, either NaCl particles or PMMA beads that could be fused or not, were used in order to control the pore morphology and interconnectivity of the materials. The nanoporosity was obtained by using various amounts of different porogenic solvents, thus generating a wide range of pore size distributions for this second porosity level. The second methodology was based on the thermally-induced phase separation process. A co-solvent mixture constituted of dioxane and water was used to solubilize previously prepared linear PHEMA, followed by a solidification process by freezing the co-solvents/PHEMA mixture, and subsequent sublimation of the co-solvents to generate the corresponding biporous PHEMA materials. Finally, advantage of doubly porous materials was taken through different functionalization reactions using carbonyldiimidazole chemistry, and further immobilization of in-situ generated gold nanoparticles. Such hybrid doubly porous materials proved to act as efficient catalytic supports.
In the second part, we numerically determined the permeability of doubly porous materials. The methodology was based on a double upscaling approach in the field of periodic homogenization theories and on unit cell calculations. The first upscaling consisted in the determination of a first permeability associated with the array of nanoscopic pores. At this scale, the pores were saturated by a viscous fluid obeying the Stokes equations and the problem was solved by means of standard Finite-Element approaches or using more recent techniques based on Fast Fourier Transform. At the mesoscopic scale, the fluid flow obeyed the Stokes equations in the macropores and the Darcy equations in the permeable solid. The unit cell problem coupling Darcy and Stokes equations was solved by the Finite Element method in order to compute the final macroscopic permeability. To this purpose, we developed a method based on a mixed variational formulation which was implemented by taking different elements in the solid and fluid regions. Various 2D and 3D examples were provided to illustrate the accuracy and the capacity of the proposed numerical methods to compute the macroscopic permeability of biporous materials.
– doubly porous polymeric materials
– double porogen approach
– thermally-induced phase separation
– Finite Element method
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