Fluid Dynamics of the Phase Inversion Process in the Bulk Polymerization of High Impact Polystyrene

J. M. Maffi, D. A. Estenoz

In the synthesis of HIPS, phase inversion (PI) is the critical point at which a dispersed PS-rich phase becomes a continuous matrix, leaving behind a PB-rich phase as dispersed particles that may contain occluded PS-rich droplets inside (occlusions). The size and shape of these particles essentially determine the mechanical properties of the material, which makes PI a critical point during the reaction. In this work, the most popular mechanism for PI – an imbalance between coalescence and break-up of dispersed particles – is assessed through a population balance model, coupled with a heterogeneous polymerization model. Results are adjusted and discussed with experimental evidence gathered from TEM images.

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