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In this paper the application of Nonlinear Model Predictive Control (NMPC) to a chemical reactor, namely the Open Plate Reactor(OPR), is considered. A control strategy which allows a safe start-up operation of the reactor and provides an easy handling of system restrictions and nonlinearities, is proposed. An efficient open-loop parameterization of the control signals is used to further reduce the size of the optimization variables. It is shown that the NMPC algorithm developed gives satisfactory operation and the reduced open loop parameterization results in a sufficiently rich closed loop behavior.