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Feasibility of Free Radical Polymerization of Acrylic Acid in a Continuous Flow Reactor

Ward, Joshua (2021) Feasibility of Free Radical Polymerization of Acrylic Acid in a Continuous Flow Reactor. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The polymerization kinetics and feasibility of producing polyacrylic acid in water with ammonium persulfate via a lab-scale continuous flow tubular reactor was investigated. Initial monomer concentrations ranging from 0.70 to 3.00 mol/L and initiator concentrations ranging from 0.056 to 0.112 mol/L were tested at 90 °C. The reactor included two HPLC pumps, two static mixers, and disposable PTFE tubing in a hot bath. A product closely meeting the industrially-desired values of molecular weight 300,000 g/mol, polydispersity index of 10, 25% solids, and acrylic acid conversion ≥ 99.0% was successfully manufactured. However, high monomer concentrations lead to significant fouling challenges which pose a serious concern for industrial application. The pseudo steady-state kinetics of acrylic acid polymerization was studied and the effects of initial monomer and initiator concentrations and residence times were investigated. Experimental results agree with past reports that conversion increases with initial monomer concentration and that the polymerization rate has a 3/2 power dependence on monomer concentration as opposed to the conventional 1st power dependence found within other free radical polymerizations. A simple simulation of the polymerization of acrylic acid was created based on the reviewed kinetics. This simulation is still in its early stages and does not yet accurately model every kinetic consideration. A more robust simulation would provide support to future experiments by accurately predicting final polymer properties based on initial conditions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ward, JoshuaJDW124@pitt.edujdw1240000-0003-3264-943X
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairVelankar,
Committee CoChairLi,
Committee MemberZhao,
Date: 13 June 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 19 March 2021
Approval Date: 13 June 2021
Submission Date: 8 April 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 53
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Materials Science and Engineering
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Polymerization, polyacrylic acid, continuous flow, tubular reactor, kinetics, simulation
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2021 18:48
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2021 18:48


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