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Polymerisation and depolymerisation chemistry: the second century Faraday Discussion

8 - 10 September 2025, Oxford, United Kingdom

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Join us in Oxford in September 2025 for this edition of the Faraday Discussion series. The Faraday Discussions are unique international discussion meetings that address current and emerging topics at the forefront of the physical sciences. This meeting is for established and early-career scientists, postgraduate students and industrial researchers working on various aspects of polymer science. On behalf of the organising committee, we look forward to welcoming you to Oxford.

Charlotte Williams and Antoine Buchard


Faraday Discussions have a special format where primary research papers written by the speakers are distributed to all participants before the meeting, and most of the meeting is devoted to discussing the papers. All delegates at the meeting, not just speakers, have the opportunity to make comments, ask questions, or present complementary or contradictory measurements and calculations during the discussion sessions. In addition, there is a dedicated poster session where further discussion takes place. The research papers and a record of the discussion are published in the journal Faraday Discussions.


Whether it is in the form of plastic materials or of liquid polymer formulations, polymers have shaped the modern world in many ways. Today, the annual global production of plastics and polymeric materials comes to nearly 370 million tonnes. Beyond their ubiquity in our daily lives, polymers are key in many emerging technologies and hold tremendous potential to respond to current societal challenges. However, it has also been recognised over the last decades that the lifecycles of many polymers are fundamentally unsustainable. Synthetic polymers mostly derive from fossil feedstocks, involve significant carbon dioxide emissions during manufacturing and disposal, suffer difficulties in recycling and many are pervasive lacking degradation mechanisms either industrially or in the environment. This has created a set of serious implications for polymer science from high greenhouse gas emissions to millions of tonnes of mismanaged waste.

This Faraday Discussion meeting will focus on the scientific questions, challenges and areas for future development to advance polymer science. It will comprise the following interrelated themes: (i) utilisation of novel feedstocks and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in making polymers; methods to control monomer sequence and polymer architectures for function and application; polymerisation processes, including data-driven design and manufacturing processes; recycling and depolymerisation methods, including biodegradation, to improve circularity.

Novel feedstocks
This session will focus on the chemistry and processes to make monomers and to functionalise natural biopolymers. It will include presentations on the use and benefits for biomass derived monomers, such as those from carbohydrates, triglycerides, lignin and terpenes, with a particular focus on use of co-products and wastes in polymer production. 

This session will investigate how catalysis can be used to make polymerisation processes more efficient and more sustainable, and to control polymer sequences, stereo- and regiochemistry, so as to enable innovative material and properties. Discussion topics will include organocatalysis, metal-based catalysis and heterogeneous catalysis, the synthesis of novel catalytic systems, the elucidation of catalytic reactions using experimental and computational methods (including in-situ reaction monitoring), and the impact of residual catalytic species on polymer properties.

Polymerisation processes and computational methods to control structure
This session will discuss how to regulate, control and effect control over polymer sequences, structures, architectures and molar mass distributions by using external stimuli and process control.  The session will also discuss how data and machine learning-driven approaches can help to improve polymerisation processes.  The types of chemistry to be discussed will include ‘triggers/switches and stimuli’, methods to control molar mass distributions, polymer syntheses in flow, and computational approaches to optimise structures and performances. 

Closing the loop – the chemistry of  depolymerisation, polymer recycling and environmental degradation
This session will examine the chemistry and fundamental science challenges associated with the different end-life options for polymers.  Discussion topics will include chemical recycling, designing polymer structures for efficient mechanical recycling, polymer upcycling and re-purposing, depolymerisation kinetics/thermodynamics and mechanisms, depolymerisation catalysis, polymer composting and biodegradation. The environmental chemistry of polymers will also be discussed. The future opportunities to combine effective polymerisation and depolymerisation strategies into the design of polymer structures is at the heart of this session and the associated discussions. 

Grants for Carers

With our Grants for carers, you can apply for up to £1,200 per year to help you attend a chemistry-related meeting, conference or workshop or a professional development event. This money would be used to cover any additional costs you incur, paying for care that you usually provide.  Please visit the website for further information and eligibility criteria.

Accessibility grants

With our Accessibility grants, you can apply for up to £1,200 per year to help with the cost of specific support to attend a chemistry-related meeting, conference, workshop or professional development event. This support might be any form of equipment, service, or other personal expense associated with meeting your access needs.

Researcher Development and Travel Grants

If you are an RSC member and you are one of the following:
  • a PhD student actively undertaking a PhD course in the chemical sciences; 
  • a researcher in the chemical sciences (including post docs, research technicians and research assistants), working in academia, industry or any sector, within 10 years of leaving full time education (at the time of the application deadline).
You can apply for up to £500 to support your participation in this event.

Please note it is not necessary to have confirmation of abstract acceptance before applying for a Researcher Development and Travel Grant and we encourage you to apply as early as possible. 
Please see the website for up-to-date information on eligibility, how to apply and submission deadlines.
Researcher Development and Travel Grants can be applied for in addition to Grants for Carers and Assistance Grants.
Trinity College

Trinity College, University of Oxford, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BH, United Kingdom

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