Emulsion Polymerization leads to the production of fine dispersion of polymer particles in a continuous medium, which most often is water. Emulsion polymerization is used in the production of a wide range of products including adhesives, sealants, coatings, binders for nonwoven fabrics, additives for paper, textile and construction materials. The favorable solvent-free products are the driving force for the rapid advancement of this green technology. Emulsion polymerization is a complex process which takes place over a number of steps. Each step is influenced by physical and chemical parameters; therefore, emulsion polymers are referred as ‘Products by Process’.
Within the scope of the present work, a new continuous process for fast emulsion copolymerization of vinyl acetate and VeoVa 10TM is realized. Important task was process intensification with a suitable reactor concept to optimize space time yield and improve process flexibility. A particular emphasis was placed on Taylor reactor (or Taylor-Couette or Taylor Vortex Flow Reactor). Taylor reactor is essentially composed of two cylinders arranged concentrically forming an annular gap which serves as a reaction space. The rotation of the inner cylinder gives rise to toroidal vortices (referred as Taylor vortices) with minimum material exchange between neighboring vortices. Thus at continuous operation mode, a train of well mixed vortices which can be considered as cascading of continuous stirred tank reactors (CSTRs) exhibits narrow residence time distribution. This special flow characteristics and hydrodynamics significantly improve heat and mass transfer, important for accomplishing high monomers conversions with high solids loading with effective removal of polymerization heat.