• phase behavior;
  • zero dynamics;
  • controllability;
  • industrial polymerization reactors;
  • operating/design parameters;
  • model uncertainty


The production of polymer is a very important sector in the chemical processing industry as demand for polymeric materials increases, and these polymerization processes exhibit nonlinear dynamics posing difficulties on process operation and control. It is desirable to understand the relationship between open-loop controllability and process conditions. The phase behavior that is an open-loop indicator of the controllability for the methyl methacrylate and propylene polymerization reactor over the entire feasible operating region is determined, and the influences of design/operating parameters and model uncertainties on this inherent characteristic at the design stage are analyzed. Based on zero dynamics and singularity theory, directly in the nonlinear setting, a methodology for the preliminary analysis of the phase behavior over the whole feasible operating region is presented and applied into the above two reactors. The above research results demonstrate that to modify certain parameters in certain direction would improve the controllability and are expected to provide helpful guidelines for improving plant and control system design. This is desirable because it allows identification of the cause of the limitation to give an indication where to modify the design. © 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 57: 2795–2807, 2011