This study presents a feasibility study of the broadening of the polypropylene molecular weight distribution produced using a multisite Ziegler-Natta catalyst in a continuous liquid-pool polymerization reactor. The broadening is achieved by operating the reactor under periodic forcing of both hydrogen and catalyst feed flows. Model-based dynamic optimization is used to determine the cycle period and peak width for these inputs. Through simulation it is shown that limited widening (~30%) of the molecular weight distribution can be achieved in case of a limited removal of hydrogen from the reactor. The results also show that the forced removal of hydrogen from the reactor could potentially double the polydispersity index of the produced polymer.
- Molecular weight distribution broadening
- periodic operation
- liquid pool polymerization
- control vector parameterization