Summary: A short stop reactor (SSR) was developed to study nascent particle morphology and reaction kinetics in the gas-phase polymerisation of olefins on supported catalysts. It is shown that the SSR provides a useful means to look into important phenomena such as catalyst fragmentation and catalyst site activation and deactivation that take place during the very early stages of the heterogeneous polymerisation of olefins. New experimental results obtained from gas-phase polymerisation of ethylene show that, depending on the type of catalyst system and on the reaction conditions, different kinds of morphologies can be obtained for the nascent polymer (e.g., cracks and folded chain). Experimental data also indicate that the growth of the polymer chains occur at a non-steady state during the very early stages of the polymerisation.
SEM image showing the morphology of a polymer/catalyst particle after 2 seconds of polymerisation at 8 bars of ethylene on an MgCl2-supported Ziegler-Natta catalyst.