Reaction kinetics of dropwise addition of trimethylolpropane (TMP) to toluene diisocyanate (TDI-80) at various temperatures and initial stoichiometry was studied. The progress of the polymerization reaction was monitored by measuring the concentration of isocyanate groups and TDI isomers by means of backtitration and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), respectively. The kinetics of dropwise addition method, compared with the conventional one-shot method, was well described by a second order equation. This procedure was optimized by comparing the deviations between experimental data and theoretically calculated data. The effects of temperature, initial stoichiometry and TDI isomers on the amount of excess 2,4-TDI and 2,6-TDI were investigated. Three commercially available TDI mixtures, 65 : 35, 80 : 20, and 100 : 0 ratio of 2,4-TDI/2,6-TDI, respectively, were used. A recycling model of unreacted TDI isomers and solvent was established to reach a stable process and yield polyurethane prepolymer with good reproducibility. This model has been applied in the chemical plant to prepare polyurethane prepolymer with precisely defined chemical compositions in a continuous process. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013
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