Kmiotek, Stephen J.
Inspired by an industrial accident that occurred in 2010, we explored the exothermic acid-catalyzed polymerization of furfuryl alcohol. In the accident, methanesulfonic acid entered a drum of furfuryl alcohol and caused an explosion due to a runaway reaction. In our investigation, we completed experiments to find the heat of reaction of furfuryl alcohol, heat capacity of polyfurfuryl alcohol, and overall heat transfer coefficient of furfuryl alcohol. We produced a model in Mathcad that can predict reaction temperature overtime and estimate the time for a runaway reaction to occur. We also investigated how mass and heat transfer can limit the reaction rate. Finally, we included the limitations of our experiments as well as safety recommendations for industry and future research.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Major Qualifying Project
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