Flow field analysis of some mixing and conveying screw element regions, within a closely intermeshing, co-rotating twin-screw extruder.
Grafting of antioxidants and other modifiers onto polymers by reactive extrusion, has been performed successfully by the Polymer Processing and Performance Group at Aston University. Traditionally the optimum conditions for the grafting process have been established within a Brabender internal mixer. Transfer of this batch process to a continuous processor, such as an extruder, has, typically, been empirical. To have more confidence in the success of direct transfer of the process requires knowledge of, and comparison between, residence times, mixing intensities, shear rates and flow regimes in the internal mixer and in the continuous processor. The continuous processor chosen for the current work in the closely intermeshing, co-rotating twin-screw extruder (CICo-TSE). CICo-TSEs contain screw elements that convey material with a self-wiping action and are widely used for polymer compounding and blending. Of the different mixing modules contained within the CICo-TSE, the trilobal elements, which impose intensive mixing, and the mixing discs, which impose extensive mixing, are of importance when establishing the intensity of mixing. In this thesis, the flow patterns within the various regions of the single-flighted conveying screw elements and within both the trilobal element and mixing disc zones of a Betol BTS40 CICo-TSE, have been modelled using the computational fluid dynamics package Polyflow. A major obstacle encountered when solving the flow problem within all of these sets of elements, arises from both the complex geometry and the time-dependent flow boundaries as the elements rotate about their fixed axes. Simulation of the time dependent boundaries was overcome by selecting a number of sequential 2D and 3D geometries, used to represent partial mixing cycles. The flow fields were simulated using the ideal rheological properties of polypropylene and characterised in terms of velocity vectors, shear stresses generated and a parameter known as the mixing efficiency.