Description: Polyethylene is one of the most widely used plastics, and over 60 million tons are produced worldwide every year. Polyethylene is obtained by the catalytic polymerization of ethylene in gas and liquid phase reactors. The gas phase processes are more advantageous, and use fluidized-bed reactors for production of polyethylene. Since they operate so close to the melting point of the polymer, agglomeration is an operational concern in all slurry and gas polymerization processes. Electrostatics and hot spot formation are the main factors that contribute to agglomeration in gas-phase processes. Electrostatic charges in gas phase polymerization fluidized bed reactors are known to influence the bed hydrodynamics, particle elutriation, bubble size, bubble shape etc. Accumulation of electrostatic charges in the fluidized-bed can lead to operational issues. In this work a first-principles electrostatic model is developed and coupled with a multi-fluid computational fluid dynamic (CFD) model to understand the effect of electrostatics on the dynamics of a fluidized-bed. The multi-fluid CFD model for gas-particle flow is based on the kinetic theory of granular flows closures. The electrostatic model is developed based on a fixed, size-dependent charge for each type of particle (catalyst, polymer, polymer fines) phase. The combined CFD model is first verified using simple test cases, validated with experiments and applied to a pilot-scale polymerization fluidized-bed reactor. The CFD model reproduced qualitative trends in particle segregation and entrainment due to electrostatic charges observed in experiments. For the scale up of fluidized bed reactor, filtered models are developed and implemented on pilot scale reactor.
Date: November 2, 2012
Creator: Rokkam, Ram
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department