Emulsion polymerization

Responsible person:


Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) is a synthetic elastomer with wide range of industrial applications, mainly as an essential component of car tires. By utilizing industrial data and theoretical knowledge we created mathematical model for dynamic simulation of SBR production by cold emulsion polymerization in the cascade of up to twelve continuous stirred tank reactors.
In the mathematical model the reaction mixture (emulsion) is formally divided into three phases:

  • droplets of monomer, 
  • polymer particles,
  • aqueous phase. 

The reaction mechanism of styrene-butadiene copolymerization was processed by the population balance of the moments of chain-length and chain-branching distributions. The developed software allows the prediction of the conversion of monomers, degree of polymer chain branching, residual concentration of mercaptan (i.e., chain transfer agent), composition of the copolymer, average molar weights of copolymer, the latter being correlated with Mooney viscosity, the main parameter characterizing the quality of the product. Polymer particle size distribution is obtained by the independent model based on the Monte Carlo simulation of the growth of statistical set of polymer particles.
Developed model of SBR production was successfully validated by plant data both in the steady-state (Fig. 1) and in the dynamic regime (Fig. 2). Principal objectives of the simulation software are following:

  • minimization of the off-spec product amount during transitions between different SBR grades, 
  • study of the production line behavior with respect to varying quality of incoming monomers, 
  • investigation of possible technological improvements of the SBR production (side inlets of monomers and mercaptan), 
  • determination of reasons for undesirable quality of produced latex.

Experience gained during solving this project are now applied in the European project COOPOL (i.e., Control and Real Time Optimization of Intensive Polymerisation Processes).



Published results:
Zubov, A., Pokorny, J., Kosek, J. Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) production by emulsion polymerization: Dynamic modeling and intensification of the process. Chemical Engineering Journal, 2012, 207-208, 414-420.



Juraj Kosek
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+420 220 443 296

University of Chemistry and Technology Prague
Department of Chemical Engineering
Technicka 5
166 28 Prague 6
Czech Republic

University of West Bohemia
New Technologies Research Centre (NTC)
Univerzitní 8
306 14 Pilsen
Czech Republic