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4. MANUFACTURE OF POLYSTYRENE The manufacture of polystyrene usually involves two sepa- rate process steps; the
4. MANUFACTURE OF POLYSTYRENE
The manufacture of polystyrene usually involves two sepa-
rate process steps; the first is polymerization, the second
pelletization or coloring. The polymerization step, a chemical
reaction, was described in the previous chapter. The coloring
step requires changing the physical form or appearance of the
product without changing its chemical characteristics.
In general the polymerization of styrene requires heating
the liquid hydrocarbon with or without initiators (peroxides).
As was indicated in Chapter 3, the reaction of styrene with
styrene radicals is a chain reaction which not only results in
the formation of a polymer but also produces heat in con-
siderable quantities. vIn manufacturing polystyrene the styrene
monomer must be heated to start the reaction; once starred,
however, the heat must be removed. ^Removing the heat of
reaction is a major engineering problem in the manufacture
of polystyrene. This problem is complicated by the fact that
as polystyrene forms the styrene-polystyrene solution becomes
increasingly viscous. As viscosity increases heat conductivity
decreases; the resulting temperature increase accelerates the
reaction. Thus high viscosity greatly magnifies the problem
of removing the heat of reaction and controlling the tempera-
ture of the solution.
Proper control of temperature during the reaction is essen-
tial since the uniformity of the final product is dependent
largely on the reproducibility of the actual reaction tempera-
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