May 2012

Petrochemical Developments

Control moisture problems in slurry-based polyolefin operations

Proper moisture removal from the polymerization-reaction medium is key to successfully operating a HDPE plant designed on low-pressure, slurry-process technology.

Mitra, S., University of Newcastle

Proper moisture removal from the polymerization-reaction medium is the key to successfully operating a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plant designed based on low-pressure, slurry-process technology. Due to the low-pressure operation and no catalyst recovery system, the Ziegler-Natta catalyst is highly sensitive to moisture in the reaction medium. The reaction rate can be terminated due to a breakdown of the catalyst. n-Hexane serves as the reaction medium in this HDPE process; it is recycled through a comprehensive purification process that reduces water content to 10 ppm–20 ppm. Continuous operation of the mother-liquor purification unit is crucial. Too often, this purification un

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