Reaction pathways to dimer in polystyrene pyrolysis: A mechanistic modeling study

Seth E. Levine, Linda J. Broadbelt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


A detailed mechanistic model for polystyrene pyrolysis was created that built on a modeling framework developed in our previous work and was used to probe three competing pathways to dimer formation: benzyl radical addition, 1,3-hydrogen shift, and 7,3-hydrogen shift, based on recent literature reports. To incorporate the chemistry involved in the 7,3-hydrogen shift pathway, the 1,7- and 7,3-hydrogen shift reaction families were added to the model. The updated version of the model tracks 75 species and over 3500 reactions. Rate parameters for all families were specified based on our previous work, more recent literature reports, and regression against limited experimental data. The model was able to accurately predict the experimental results for polystyrene pyrolysis for different reactor configurations for a temperature range of 100 °C and two orders of magnitude of initial molecular weight for experimental data collected in our own lab and from Bouster and coworkers and Bockhorn and coworkers. The results from our model were studied using net rate analysis to gain insight into the competitiveness of the various reaction pathways to dimer formation. The net rate analysis demonstrated that 7,3-hydrogen shift is the dominant reaction pathway to dimer formation at the temperatures studied. Benzyl radical addition becomes a more competitive reaction pathway as the temperature increases, which is caused predominantly by an increase in the benzyl radical concentration with increasing temperature. Overall, it is quantitatively shown that both 7,3-hydrogen shift and benzyl radical addition are important pathways for dimer formation, with their relative competitiveness influenced by temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-951
Number of pages11
JournalPolymer Degradation and Stability
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Dimer
  • Kinetic modeling
  • Mechanistic modeling
  • Polystyrene pyrolysis
  • Reaction pathway analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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