Thermal optimisation of polymer extrusion using in-process monitoring techniques

Javier Vera-Sorroche, Adrian Kelly, Elaine Brown, Phil Coates, Nayeem Karnachi, Eileen Harkin-Jones, Kang Li, Jing Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Polymer extrusion is an energy intensive process, which is often run at less than optimal conditions. The extrusion process consists of gradual melting of solid polymer by thermal conduction and viscous shearing between a rotating screw and a barrel; as such it is highly dependent upon the frictional, thermal and rheological properties of the polymer. Extruder screw geometry and extrusion variables should ideally be tailored to suit the properties of individual polymers, but in practice this is rarely achieved due to the lack of understanding of the process. Here, in-process monitoring techniques have been used to characterise the thermal dynamics of the extrusion process. Novel thermocouple grid sensors have been used to measure melt temperature fields within flowing polymer melts at the entrance to an extruder die in conjunction with infra-red thermometers and real-time quantification of energy consumption. A commercial grade of polyethylene has been examined using three extruder screw geometries at different extrusion operating conditions to understand the process efficiency. Extruder screw geometry, screw rotation speed and set temperature were found to have a significant effect on the thermal homogeneity of the melt and process energy consumed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-413
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Issue number2
Early online date24 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 May 2013


  • Energy
  • Melt temperature
  • Optimisation
  • Polymer extrusion


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