Dynamics of semibatch polymerization reactors: II. Pilot-plant study



A semibatch flow scheduling strategy proposed by Teymour and Ray (1989, 1996) is evaluated for a polymerization reaction conducted in a pilot-plant reactor. The reaction used is the free radical terpolymerization of styrene, α-methyl styrene, and acrylic acid monomers initiated by an organic peroxide initiator and carried out in the presence of a reactive glycol ether solvent. This strategy was tested in both single batch and sequential semibatch modes. The process was shown to produce polymer of constant molecular weight properties and composition as inferred from acid number and monomer conversion measurements. This process could be used for obtaining polymer products from a semibatch reactor that are of comparable quality to CSTR products. Results indicate success of this process at meeting this objective; however, practical considerations relating to agitation and temperature control need to be properly addressed to ensure this success.