Scale-up in emulsion polymerisation

  • Alan J. Merry

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The procedure for successful scale-up of batchwise emulsion polymerisation has been studied. The relevant literature on liquid-liquid dispersion on scale-up and on emulsion polymerisation has been crit1cally reviewed. Batchwise emulsion polymerisation of styrene in a specially built 3 litre, unbaffled, reactor confirmed that impeller speed had a direct effect on the latex particle size and on the reaction rate. This was noted to be more significant at low soap concentrations and the phenomenon was related to the depletion of micelle forming soap by soap adsorption onto the monomer emulsion surface. The scale-up procedure necessary to maintain constant monomer emulsion surface area in an unbaffled batch reactor was therefore investigated. Three geometrically similar 'vessels of 152, 229 and 305mm internal diameter, and a range of impeller speeds (190 to 960 r.p.m.) were employed. The droplet sizes were measured either through photomicroscopy or via a Coulter Counter. The power input to the impeller was also measured. A scale-up procedure was proposed based on the governing relationship between droplet diameter, impeller speed and impeller diameter. The relationships between impeller speed soap concentration, latex particle size and reaction rate were investigated in a series of polymerisations employing an amended commercial recipe for polystyrene. The particle size was determined via a light transmission technique. Two computer models, based on the Smith and Ewart approach but taking into account the adsorption/desorption of soap at the monomer surface, were successful 1n predicting the particle size and the progress of the reaction up to the end of stage II, i.e. to the end of the period of constant reaction rate.
Date of Award1980
Original languageEnglish


  • emulsion polymerisation
  • scale-up
  • dispersion
  • polymerisation

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