Chemical kinetic investigation of a commercial batch reactor process
The aim of this investigation was to study the chemical reactions occurring during the batchwise production of a butylated melamine-formaldehyde resin, in order to optimise the efficiency and economics of the batch processes. The batch process models are largely empirical in nature as the reaction mechanism is unknown. The process chemistry and the commercial manufacturing method are described. A small scale system was established in glass and the ability to produce laboratory resins with the required quality was demonstrated, simulating the full scale plant. During further experiments the chemical reactions of methylolation, condensation and butylation were studied. The important process stages were identified and studied separately. The effects of variation of certain process parameters on the chemical reactions were also studied. A published model of methylolation was modified and used to simulate the methylolation stage. A major result of this project was the development of an indirect method for studying the condensation and butylation reactions occurring during the dehydration and acid reaction stages, as direct quantitative methods were not available. A mass balance method was devised for this purpose and used to collect experimental data. The reaction scheme was verified using this data. The reactions stages were simulated using an empirical model. This has revealed new information regarding the mechanism and kinetics of the reactions. Laboratory results were shown to be comparable with plant scale results. This work has improved the understanding of the batch process, which can be used to improve product consistency. Future work has been identified and recommended to produce an optimum process and plant design to reduce the batch time.