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Abstract

The interest in emulsion polymerization is strong because it offers the possibility of producing products with special properties not easily produced by other types of polymerization processes. Because the main reaction medium is water, not an organic solvent, its importance is steadily increasing with efforts to design environmentally benign processes. The control of emulsion polymerization is a challenging problem due to major limitations encountered in its modeling and on-line monitoring. Although emulsion polymerization has been studied and used for several decades, progress has been slow. Industrial practice relies heavily on experience while several controversial issues are still being studied. The literature related to this issue is vast and sometimes contradictory, and most deals with experimental investigation of specific emulsion polymerization systems to improve the process understanding and develop a process model. However, universally accepted conclusions are scarce. This article reviews the major issues related to control of emulsion polymerization. The latest contributions in process understanding, mathematical modeling, sensor technology, and process control techniques for emulsion polymerization are discussed. Emphasis is on contributions, which are important in resolving the control of emulsion polymerization processes.