Polymer Engineering and Science, Vol.34, No.7, 598-612, 1994
Modeling of Polypropylene Degradation During Reactive Extrusion with Implications for Process-Control
This paper presents the development of a model for free radical initiated polypropylene degradation during reactive extrusion that combines a kinetic model of the polypropylene degradation reaction with a simplified model of the melting mechanism in the extruder. The free radical initiated degradation of polypropylene is characterized by a narrowing of the molecular weight distribution (MWD) and a decrease in the molecular weight averages. A high temperature SEC is used to determine MWD’s for three different commercially available polypropylenes degraded at various initiator concentrations in a 1.5 inch single screw extruder (L/D = 24:1). The predictions of the kinetic model alone and the combined kinetic-melting model are compared with the experimentally determined MWD’s and molecular weight averages for the degraded polypropylenes. The predictions of a modified kinetic model that includes the possibility of termination by combination are also examined. The kinetic-melting model is found to provide significantly improved predictions of the experimentally determined MWD’s and molecular weight averages in comparison to the original kinetic model. A viscosity-molecular weight relationship is also developed, which is then used to determine the gain of the degradation process as a function of the initiator concentration from the molecular weight averages predicted by the kinetic-melting model. Earlier work has shown such prior knowledge of the process gain can be used to significantly improve the performance of process control schemes for the degradation process.