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Emulsion polymerization

Emulsion polymerization is a type of polymerization that takes place in an emulsion typically incorporating water, monomer, and surfactant. The most common type of emulsion polymerization is an oil-in-water emulsion, in which droplets of monomer (the oil) are emulsified (with surfactants) in a continuous phase of water. If the polymerization is carried out in the absence of surfactants, it is generally known as a suspension polymerization.

Advantages of emulsion polymerization include:

Most emulsion polymerizations use a free-radical polymerization method. Emulsion poymerization can be carried out as a batch reaction, but in many cases is performed as a starve-fed reaction to insure a good distribution of monomers into the polymer backbone chain.

The leading theory for the mechanism of starve-fed, free-radical emulsion polymerization is summarized by the following: