Maxum process gas chromatograph measures and optimizes synthetic rubber production – Case Study


Courtesy of Siemens Industry, Inc. - Process Analytics


Rubber is a collective term for macromolecular substances of natural rubber (NR) or synthetic rubber (SR) origin. Natural rubber use dates back to the Mayas but was first recognized as technical material in 1851 by Charles Nelson Goodyear. He presented a new material produced from the milk of rubber trees, which had been treated with sulfur and vulcanized to strengthen the rubber. Years later, the development of alternatives for natural rubber was started for a number of reasons including political ones.

Synthetic Rubber

In 1920, the German Hermann Staudinger succeeded in determining the structure of natural rubber which was key to the subsequent development of synthetic rubber in many countries. In Germany, this was followed by a patent for a synthetic rubber in 1929 and by the first large-scale industrial production beginning in 1939. This product was called Buna, from Butadiene as raw material and Natrium (sodium) as catalyst.

These days, process gas chromatographs are a key part of the standard instrumentation of most production plants for synthetic rubber. These analyzers continuously monitor processing variables such as composition of the process streams and play an essential role in efficient plant operation and product quality.

Siemens Analytical Products and Solutions is well known worldwide for its excellent process analyzer expertise, application know-how, service support and expertise in engineering and manufacturing turnkey solutions particularly those used for synthetic rubber production.

Synthetic Rubbers

Synthetic rubbers are complex chemical compounds formed through the polymerization of monomers. Synthetic rubber production (fig. 1) starts with the refining process of oil, coal or other hydrocarbons with naphtha as one of the desired products. The naphtha is then combined with natural gas to produce monomers. Typical monomers used for production feed material include butadiene, styrene, isoprene, chloroprene, acrylonitrile, ethylene or propylene.

These monomers are then polymerized using catalyst and process steam to form chains of polymers which results in rubber intermediaries. These substances are then processed to their final rubber products by vulcanization.

In integrated plants, naphtha or even the monomers and process steam are delivered as raw materials from other production facilities which are located close to the rubber plant.

The synthetic rubber industry provides a wide variety of synthetic rubbers to reflect the different applications and requirements from the market.

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