(383e) Importance of Selecting Right Analytical Tools for Successful Product Development: Case Study of Single and Two Phase Polymerization Reactions

Authors: 
Deshpande, K., The Dow Chemical Company
Dixit, R., The Dow Chemical Company
Jain, P., Dow Chemical Company
Boopalachandran, P., The Dow Chemical Company
Villa, C. M., The Dow Chemical Company
Hayot, P., The Dow Chemical Company
Park, D., The Dow Chemical Company
The importance of Chemical Reaction Engineering, which deals with chemical kinetics, transport processes, and subsequent reactor design, for product development cannot be overstated. Understanding the chemical kinetics and underlying transport phenomena is critical for successful reactor scale-up to enable commercial production. The success of a process and hence a product is inherently tied to laboratory reactors and concomitant process analytical techniques which assist in development of intrinsic kinetics devoid of mass and heat transfer limitations.

This talk will focus on two examples which highlight the importance of right analytical tools for process and product development. The first example will discuss capturing â??intrinsicâ? kinetics of a potentially hazardous exothermic chemistry. In particular, ethylene and propylene oxide based polyalkylene glycols are widely used in high performance formulated fluids and lubricants. The current alkoxylaton kinetics employed in their reactor design and operation limit optimization at industrial scale due to the need for empirical adjustments. Thus development of intrinsic kinetics, not affected by heat and mass transfer limitations, is necessary for improved process performance and for product optimization. This work addressed the challenge by development of an experimental methodology coupled with an in-situ analytical technique to accurately capture the true kinetics. Kinetic model development, regression of kinetic parameters and model validation for a commercial process will be presented.

The second example will address the role of analytical techniques in development of energy efficient processes and products. Single phase solution polymerization for making polyethylene resins renders itself aptly for efficient processing. In particular, energy intensive solvent recovery after polymerization results in a high energy foot print. Selection of appropriate solvent to lower polymer solubility during polymerization to form two phases i.e. polymer phase and solvent phase provides an energy efficient alternative. The heavier polymer phase can be separated using a decantation step after polymerization to remove up to 50% of the solvent leading to lower solvent separation costs. Evaluation of this new processing route and development of analytical methodology to prevent risk of failure on final implementation will be discussed.

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