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AIChE Journal, Vol.65, No.9, 2019
Modeling of molecular weight and copolymer composition distributions for ethylene-propylene solution copolymerization
A comprehensive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model was developed to investigate spatial distributions of molecular weight distribution (MWD) and copolymer composition distribution (CCD) for ethylene-propylene (EPM) copolymers in a bubble column reactor. The CFD approach incorporated Euler-Euler two-fluid model, copolymerization kinetics, and copolymer microstructural distribution model together by user-defined functions for ethylene-propylene heterogeneous copolymerization process. MWD and CCD distributions were calculated by introducing Flory's distribution and Stockmayer's distribution, respectively. CFD model results were validated with literature data. The multiphase hydrodynamics, interphase mass transfer, spatial-temporal variations of MWD and CCD distributions were analyzed. Both distributions are wider at the inlet of reactor for the inefficient mixing, but narrower at the outlet due to fully developed flow and polymerization. This model is beneficial to the improvement of polymer products and process control in industrial EPM reactor.