On the basis of analysis of key engineering factors predominating in cationic polymerization, butyl rubber (IIR) as an example was synthesized by cationic polymerization in the high-gravity environment generated by a rotating packed bed (RPB) reactor. The influence of the rotating speed, packing thickness, and polymerization temperature on the number average molecular weight (Mn) of IIR was studied. The optimum experimental conditions were determined as rotating speed of 1200 r min−1, packing thickness of 40 mm and polymerization temperature of 173 K, where IIR with Mn of 289,000 and unimodal molecular weight distribution of 1.99 was obtained. According to the experimental results and elementary reactions, a model for the prediction of Mn was developed, and the validity of the model was confirmed by the fact that most of the predicted Mns agreed well with the experimental data with a deviation within 10%. © 2009 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2010
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