Plexifarm: a new project for Glass to Power
The construction of the new production platform called PlexiFarm is under way. There the new PMMA slabs will be synthesized in industrial scale, using the nano-particles produced in the NanoFarm site.
The high optical quality of the slab combined with the high quality of dispersion of the nano-particles inside it, will play a role of fundamental importance in all the factors that contribute to give efficiency to the final glazing unit. It should be noted that the whole industrial project of slab synthesis has passed through an intense and continuous experimental process which over many months has led to the definition, organization and optimization of a unique sequence of cascade operations. Thanks to the preliminary realization of a pilot process plant that reproduces the salient phases of the industrial process on a small scale, it has been possible to face, with adequate introspection, the set of problems that characterize the PMMA pre-polymer synthesis, the phenomenon of pre- dispersion of the nano particles therein, the casting of the latter mixture on an appropriate mold and the completion of the polymerization through a sequence of thermal stages to which the mold is subject before the re-opening for the extraction of the finished slab. Thanks to this it was therefore possible to organize and then design the various units that contribute to define the entire production chain according to a unique sequence organized as follows:
– First phase: synthesis on a batch reactor of a PMMA liquid pre-polymer of appropriate viscosity, density and mean distribution of its molecular weights.
– Second phase: pre-mixing of the nano-particles in the liquid pre- polymer through special high shear dynamic mixers which improve the disrupting action and the consequent compatibilization with the polymeric phase. Simultaneously, the injection of the mixture is carried out on a special mold.
– Third phase: thermal stage of the mold on a thermostatic bath at about 60°C where the reaction proceeds slowly, leading to a progressive and homogeneous solidification of the polymer.
-Fourth stage: further thermal stage of the mold in the furnace at about 120°C during which any traces of residual monomer undergo reactions and at the same time all the power of post polymerization of the slab is annihilated. At this point, after gradual cooling at room temperature, the slab is ready to be extracted from the mold.
Finally, it is important to underline that the entire project will guarantee zero environmental impact for the entire production chain.