Acrylic polymerizations are highly exothermic processes which must be carefully evaluated to ensure safe manufacture. In particular, failure to remove the heat of reaction can lead to runaway polymerizations, characterized by sudden and rapid increases in reaction rate, temperature, and pressure. If not adequately vented, runaway polymerizations can quickly lead to reactor overpressure, possible vessel rupture, and release of flammable or toxic materials.
Because of complex polymerization kinetics and the large number of industrial acrylic polymer processes, practical application of DIERS two-phase flow methodology for sizing reactor emergency vents required development of a computer model to simulate specific commercial polymerizations. This model is currently used to determine the emergency vent adequacy of reactors prior to manufacture of new resins in existing equipment, as well as to assist in design of new reactor systems. The purpose of this paper is to discuss practical application of DIERS technology for ensuring safe acrylic resin manufacture through use of computer simulation.