Interactive Self-Study Module: Polymerization Kinetics


This module uses screencasts to explain kinetics of polymerization reactions. Your retention of material in this module will increase if you write down reasons for your answers to ConcepTests and questions in screencasts, and you try to solve the example problems before watching the solutions in the screencasts. We suggest using the learning resources in the following order:

  1. Attempt to answer the multiple choice ConcepTest and solve the example problem before watching the screencasts.
  2. Watch the screencasts that describe the addition and step-growth polymerization.
  3. Try to solve the example problems before watching the solutions in the screencast.
  4. Answer the ConcepTests.
  5. Look at the list of key points, but only after you try to list the key points yourself.
  • Polymerization is one of the most common reactions carried out on a large scale. 
  • This module is intended for a kinetics/reactor design course or for a materials course.
Before studying this module, you should:
After studying this module, you should be able to:
  • Explain the difference between number-averaged and weight-averaged molecular weights.
  • Explain the steps in addition and step-growth polymerization.
  • Be able to apply the steady-state approximation to a polymerization reaction.
  • Calculate number-averaged and weight-averaged molecular weight of a polymer.
  • Calculate polydispersity and degree of polymerization and be able to explain what they represent.