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Keywords:

  • reactive processing;
  • computer modeling;
  • radical polymerization

Abstract

In this paper, the optimal policies for bulk polymerization of n-butyl methacrylate (BMA) are determined in a nonisothermal batch reactor. Four objectives are realized for BMA polymerization based on a detailed process model. The objectives are: (i) maximization of monomer conversion in a specified operation time, (ii) minimization of operation time for a specified, final monomer conversion, (iii) maximization of monomer conversion for a specified, final number average polymer molecular weight, and (iv) maximization of monomer conversion for a specified, final weight average polymer molecular weight. For each objective, the optimal temperature policy of heat-exchange fluid inside reactor jacket is determined. The temperature of the heat-exchange fluid is considered as a function of a specified variable. Necessary equations are provided to suitably transform the process model in terms of a specified variable other than time, and to evaluate the elements of Jacobian to help in the accurate solution of the process model. A genetic algorithm-based optimal control method is applied to realize the objectives. The resulting optimal policies of this application reveal considerable improvements in the batch production of poly(BMA). © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl PolymSci 102: 2799–2809, 2006