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Batch to continuous vinyl chloride suspension polymerization process : a feasibility study

Lobry, Emeline. Batch to continuous vinyl chloride suspension polymerization process : a feasibility study. PhD, Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse, 2012

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Official URL: http://ethesis.inp-toulouse.fr/archive/00001970/

Abstract

Continuous processes present the benefit to be safer and more cost saving than batch processes. Many researches have been carried out in fine chemistry but few contributions refer to polymerization. We focus on the vinyl chloride suspension polymerization. This process has been extensively studied in batch with lots of improvement regarding the formulation and the technologies. This polymerization process is highly complex due to the toxic nature of the monomer, the good manage of heat transfer and stirring. Moreover the reaction step remains the only batch step of the PVC production. According to the PVC grain formation, the process can be divided into three steps (i) a liquid-liquid dispersion step in which the monomer droplet (30-50 µm) are generated and stabilized, (ii) a controlled agglomeration step of the reacting droplets exhibiting a sticky behaviour, (iii) a reaction step until the conversion rate is around 80-90% and the particles size is stable. In this study, the different technologies suitable for the different steps are pointed out. Based on the state of the art of the grain behaviour depending on the reaction conversion and on the literature concerning polymerization continuous process, static mixers and different co-current pulsed columns are proposed. Three technologies with different model system were chosen to study the liquid-liquid dispersion step. Static mixers allow the control of the droplet size under turbulent flow. In the range of the operating conditions, the dispersed phase concentration does not have a significant effect on the droplet size. The interfacial tension appears to be the most significant physico-chemical parameters. Correlation to predict the mean droplet size is proposed depending on different dimensionless numbers based on the hydrodynamics and on the systems: the Reynolds and Weber numbers. Given the promising results, static mixers are implemented at pilot scale to load the batch prior to polymerization. Their use demonstrates a noticeable reduction of the loading time and a better homogenisation of the different suspending agents and initiator inside the PVC grain. The two co-current pulsed columns design studied are the discs and doughnuts pulsed column and the COBR (continuous oscillatory baffled reactor, Nitech). For the first one, the effect of the packing materials (type and height), of the physico-chemical parameters (dispersed phase concentration, surfactant) and of hydrodynamic parameters (flowrate and oscillation conditions) on the droplet size are investigated where as for the second one the study is limited to the hydrodynamic parameters. A mean droplet size correlation is proposed based on the characteristic dimensionless numbers. The three continuous contactors used for liquid-liquid dispersion are compared in term of energy dissipation rate. The reaction is carried out in a continuous tubular reactor (the pulsed column). The column is suitable to transport solid-liquid suspension. Vinyl acetate suspension polymerization is performed to demonstrate the feasibility and particularly to study the encrusting and fouling problem. The first results are very promising.

Item Type:PhD Thesis
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Institution:Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - INPT (FRANCE)
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Research Director:
Gourdon, Christophe and Xuereb, Catherine
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Deposited On:28 Apr 2014 21:58

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