Gel Formation in Low Pressure Slurry Process of HighDensity Polyethylene
Subhasish MitraManager (Process), HDPE plantReliance Industries Ltd, Gujarat, IndiaIntroduction:
Gel formation on the all types of polyethylene (PE) film i.e. HDPE, LDPEand LLDPE is reported to be a muchcommon phenomenon and experiencedalmost everywhere. The problem islearnt owing to various operationalfeatures of the concerned process. Originas well as probable measures toovercome this particular problem isdiscussed in this note based on theexperience in
Low Pressure SlurryProcess of High Density Polyethylene
Licensor: M/s Basell Polyolefins,Germany
) engaged in production of blow molding grade, pipe grade and filmgrade product.
Brief description of Bassel Polyolefins- HDPE process:
utilizes continuousstirred-tank reactors (CSTRs), themonomers, chain-transfer agent, solvent,and catalyst species enter the reactors forpolymerization. The vaporization of thesolvent removes a large portion of thehighly exothermic heat of polymerization. The resulting slurryundergoes separation, removingunreacted
monomer, solvent, andoligomeric species from the polymer.Solvent is separated from the oligomerand recycled to the reactor inlets, and theoligomer is processed and packaged.Meanwhile, the polymer undergoesmixing, pelletization, and packaging.
Generically all types of polyethylene(PE) process has two distinguishedsections i.e.
Powder production(Polymer production)
Powder processing (Additive dosing and Extrusion)
and problem of gelsformation can be attributed to theoperating conditions in both sections.Polyethylene is very reactive beforestabilization. In presence of radical,Polyethylene generates macro-radicalshaving tendency to recombine generally- but not always - to branching and evengelling. With the influence of heat,shear, oxygen or light, the polymerbackbone can react via free radicalsreactions. These reactions are verycomplex and can lead to numerousspecies depending on the nature of theradicals and the polymer structure. Infilm extrusion, where optical propertiesare important, this phenomena is called"fish eyes" or unmelts.Gel particles in PE product may resultfrom several sources.
Unmelted particles that resultedfrom insufficient melting andmixing, such as undispersedadditives