Teaching in italian
Subject area
Reference degree course
Course type
Master's Degree
Teaching hours
Frontal Hours: 108.0
Academic year
Year taught
Course year
Reference professor for teaching
FRIGIONE Mariaenrica

Teaching description

Knowledge of disciplines belonging to a Bachelor Degree in Industrial Engineering or Materials Science are required to the Students: Chemistry, Physics and Science and Technology of Materials.

The course aims at providing students a comprehensive knowledge of Science and Technology of (natural or synthetic) polymers: from their synthesis, to their processing procedures and techniques, their macroscopic and microscopic properties and characteristics in both solid and liquid states, their durability, degradation/biodegradation in different environmental conditions, LCA (Lyfe Cycle Assessment) techniques applied to polymeric materials and their final disposal. Specific examples of natural (i.e. wood, bio-based polymers) and technologically advanced polymers, or classes of polymers, will be illustrated. Issues related to sustainability of polymers and the impact of waste plastic on the (ground/marine) environment will be discussed, presenting case studies of innovative researches aimed at studying, preventing/limiting the pollution due to waste plastics or of polymers employed to aid the environment. Part of the course will be devoted to the characterization methods and techniques for polymers, with related laboratory experiences.

Knowledge and understanding. Students must have a solid background with a broad spectrum of basic knowledge related to science, technology and sustainability of (natural or synthetic) polymers:

  • the students must have the basic cognitive tools to think analytically, critically and to correlate information’s needed to analyze, characterize, process, select a polymeric material, identify for it an appropriate recycling route;
  • they must have solid knowledge of science, technology and sustainability of (natural or synthetic) polymers;
  • they must be able to find and manage any information required on a specific (natural or synthetic) polymer, or a blend of polymers, on textbooks, handbooks, database.


Applying knowledge and understanding. After the course the student should be able to:

1) Recognize the main differences, characteristics and features of the three classes of polymers, i.e. thermosetting, thermoplastic and elastomers.

2) Select the appropriate technique and processing conditions for a specific (natural or synthetic) polymer, or a blend of polymers.

3) Identify the relationship between chemical-physical, microstructural characteristics and macroscopic properties of different polymers (including bio-based ones) belonging to the three classes of polymers.

4) Select a proper polymeric material, or a blend of polymers, for a specific application.

5) Select the proper range of service temperature for a polymer, or a blend of polymers.

6) Identify the proper methods and techniques required to characterize a specific polymer, or a blend of polymers, in relation to the specific final use.

7)  Analyze the results of an experimental test aimed at characterizing a specific property of a (natural or synthetic) polymer/blend of polymers.

8) Distinguish between the degradation and biodegradation processes, the conditions and environments in which they occur, respectively.

9) Propose a method/technique for the recycle of waste polymers in order to prevent them to be landfilled.


Making judgments. Students are guided to learn critically everything that is explained to them in class, to select the more appropriate solution (of a polymer/blend of polymers, or of a method/technique to characterize, process or recycle procedure) for any specific application/requisite and to analytically justify any choice in comparison with available alternatives, taking into account also the eco-sustainability concepts involved in the different choices.


Communication. The students must be able to communicate with a varied and composite audience, not culturally homogeneous, in a clear, logical and effective way and with the appropriate terms, using the methodological tools acquired and their scientific knowledge. The course promotes the development of the following skills of the student: ability to expose with the appropriate specialist vocabulary any topic related to science, technology and sustainability of polymers; ability to describe and analyze the proper solution for any specific application/requisite; ability to illustrate the results of an experimental test performed on a polymeric material, ability to discuss on issues related to their disposal with environmental implications.


Learning skills. Students must acquire the critical ability to relate, with originality and autonomy, to the typical problems of science, technology and sustainability of polymers, and in general, cultural issues related to other similar areas. They should be able to develop and apply independently the knowledge and methods learnt with a view to possible continuation of studies at higher (doctoral) level or in the broader perspective of cultural and professional self-improvement of lifelong learning. Therefore, students should be able to switch to exhibition forms other than the source texts in order to memorize, summarize for themselves and for others, and disseminate scientific knowledge.

The course consists of theory lessons, seminars, laboratory experiences, exercitations, visits to industrial plants and/or research laboratories. The theory lessons, carried out by using slides of other didactic material made available to students, always the day before (at least) of the lesson, are aimed at improving their knowledge and understanding through the illustration of definitions, assumptions, models and methods; students are invited take part to the lesson with autonomy of judgment, by asking questions and presenting examples. The seminars are aimed at giving an insight on some selected (updated every year) topics on science and technology of polymers and on issues related to sustainability and environmental impact of waste plastics. The laboratory experiences are aimed at illustrating the main characterization techniques, testing machines and equipment employed to analyze and characterize polymeric materials. The exercitations in classroom are aimed at illustrating how to analyze, report in a graph/table and critically discuss the results of an experimental test performed on a polymeric material. Visits to industrial plants and/or research laboratories are aimed at illustrating the on field application of what the students learn during lessons.

Final (oral) exam:

The student is asked to describe for a specific (natural or synthetic) polymer, or a blend of polymers, one or more of the following: synthesis, appropriate processing techniques, main properties and characteristics, characterization measurements and techniques and discussion of relative results, durability feature, biodegradation paths, LCA and environmental impact, recycling alternative methodologies. The student is also asked to supply alternatives for a polymeric material, for a characterization technique or for a technological method taking into account a specific goal (application, characterization, recycling).

In the evaluation of the exam, the following elements will be taken into consideration: the logical route followed by the student in solving the proposed issue; the correctness of the procedure used to address the question and provide a solution; the adequacy of the proposed solution in relation to the competencies that the student is supposed to have acquired; the capacity to make connections among the different topics covered in the course; the use of an appropriate technical language.

Prof. Frigione receives students upon appointment. Contact her at the end of each lesson or by e-mail:

The students can apply for the exam on Web-VOL system.

Theory Lessons:

1) Polymer's Chemistry. Molecular Structure of polymers. Polymeric solutions: rules for polymer solubility in solvents. Molecular weight and measurements. Gel Permeation Chromatography. Polymerization reactions. Step-growth polymerization. Chain polymerization.

2) Polymer's physics. Classification of polymers with examples. Glassy state of polymers. Characteristic temperatures for polymers. Glass transition temperature. Crystalline state of polymers.

3) Thermal characterization of polymers. Instruments and techniques for thermal analysis of polymers. Properties measured with thermal analysis.

4) Rheology and rheological analysis for polymer characterization. Classification of fluids on the basis of their rheological properties. Viscosity measurements and relative instruments. Rheological instruments employed for characterization of polymers.

5) Mechanical Properties of polymers. Standard tests and instruments for the characterization of the mechanical properties of polymers. Dynamic-mechanical properties.

6) Processing of polymers. Main industrial techniques and instruments for the processing of polymers. Characteristics of final products.

7) Durability and environmental aging of polymers. Chemical Aging. Physical Aging. Weathering. Natural and accelerated aging. Case studies.

8) Degradation and Biodegradation processes: conditions and environments, mechanisms. Biodegradable polymers.

9) Natural polymer (composite): Wood. Definitions, characteristics and properties of composite and nanocomposite materials. Wood structure at different levels of magnitude. Influence of water/moisture content on wood properties. Mechanical properties of wood: standard tests, specimens, instruments and results. Durability of wood.

10) Circular economy concepts applied to polymers. Bio-based polymers and bio-composites: production, properties, applications. Case studies.

11) LCA (Lyfe Cycle Assessment) techniques applied to polymeric materials. Issues related to sustainability of polymers, impact of waste plastic on the (ground/marine) environment. Case studies.

12) Recycling methodologies for polymers. Advantages and technological limits for each recycling method. Case studies for recycling of thermoplastic, thermosetting and elastomeric polymers.

13) Case studies of polymers employed to aid the environment.

Laboratory Experiences: Thermal, Mechanical characterization of polymers. Scanning Electric Microscopy (SEM) to analyze Polymers and Wood.

Exercitations: analysis and discussion of the results from (thermal, mechanical) tests performed on different polymers.

Seminars held by experts.

Visits to industrial plants and/or research laboratories (when possible).

L.H. Sperling, 'Introduction to Physical Polymer Science', John Wiley, 2006.

F.W. Billmeyer, 'Textbook of Polymer Science', John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1984.

S. Bruckner, G. Allegra, M. Pegoraro, F. La Mantia, “Scienza e Tecnologia dei Materiali Polimerici”, Edises, 2007.

U.W. Gedde, 'Polymer Physics', Chapman & Hall, 1996.

F. Rodriquez, 'Principles of Polymer Systems', McGraw Hill, 1989.

A.W. Birley, B. Haworth, J. Batchelor, 'Physics of Plastics', Hanser Publishers, 1992.

J. Mark, K. Ngai, W. Graessley, L. Mandelkern, E. Samulski, J. Koenig, G. Wignall, “Physical Properties of Polymers”, Cambridge University Press.

Slides and other didactic material provided by the teacher.

Second Semester (dal 01/03/2021 al 11/06/2021)

Exam type

Type of assessment
Oral - Final grade

Course timetable

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