A Mathematical Model for the Devolatilization of EPDM Rubber in a Series of Steam Stripping Vessels
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A steady-state mathematical model for the stripping section of an industrial EPDM rubber production process was developed for a three-tank process, and two four-tank processes. The experiments that were conducted to determine model parameters such as equivalent radius for EPDM particles, as well as solubility and diffusivity parameters for hexane and ENB in EPDM polymer are described. A single-particle multiple-tank model was developed first, and a process model that accounts for the residence-time distribution of crumb particles was developed second. Plant data as well as input data from an existing steady-state model was used to determine estimates for the tuning parameters used in the multiple-particle, multiple-tank model. Using plant data to assess the model’s predictive accuracy, the resulting three-tank and four-tank process B models provide accurate model predictions with a typical error of 0.35 parts per hundred resin (phr) and 0.12 phr. The four-tank process A model provides less-accurate model predictions for residual crumb concentrations in the second tank and has an overall typical error of 1.05 phr. Additional plant data from the three- and four-tank processes would increase the estimability of the parameter values for parameter ranking and estimations steps and thus, yield increased model predictive accuracy.