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Abstract

Free radical copolymerization in high-pressure autoclave reactors is studied by developing a mathematical model. Kinetic mechanisms to describe the polymerization rate, molecular weight averages, branching frequencies, as well as copolymer composition are presented. Two phase kinetics due to polymer-monomer solubilities in the reaction mixture are taken into account. Gel formation from cross-linking reactions is also analyzed. A mixing model is developed to represent the stirring effect inside the reactor. The mathematical model is implemented as a computer program to simulate commercial autoclave reactors. PID control equations are used to maintain operation at the unstable steady state. A sensitivity study is performed on the mixing model parameters and on some of the kinetic parameters and the model is compared to rate data from commercial reactors.