The effect of reactor geometry on frontal polymerization spin modes

JA Pojman
J Masere
E Petretto
M Rustici


Using reactors of different sizes and geometries the dynamics of the frontal polymerization of 1,6-hexanediol diacrylate (HDDA) and pentaerythritol tetraacrylate (PETAC), with ammonium persulfate as the initiator were studied. For this system, the frontal polymerization exhibits complex behavior that depends on the ratio of the monomers. For a particular range of monomers concentration, the polymerization front becomes nonplanar, and spin modes appear. By varying the reactor diameter, we experimentally confirmed the expected shift of the system to a greater number of "hot spots" for larger diameters. For square test tubes a "zig-zag" mode was observed for the first time in frontal polymerization. We confirmed the viscosity-dependence of the spin mode instabilities. We also observed novel modes in cylinder-inside-cylinder reactors. Lastly, using a conical reactor with a continuously varying diameter, we observed what may be evidence for bistability depending on the direction of propagation. We discuss these finding in terms of the standard linear stability analysis for propagating fronts. (C) 2002 American Institute of Physics.