Mixed succinic acid/acetic acid esterification with ethanol by reactive distillation

  • Orjuela A
  • Kolah A
  • Lira C
 et al. 
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Abstract

Esterification of mixtures of succinic acid and acetic acid, commonly produced via fermentation of biomass carbohydrates, with ethanol in a continuous reactive distillation unit has been studied. Experiments were carried out in a 6 m tall, 51 mm diameter pilot-scale stainless steel column with the reactive zone consisting of Katapak-SP11 structured packing containing Amberlyst 70 cation exchange resin as catalyst. Noncatalytic BX structured gauze packing was used in stripping and enrichment sections. Steady-state experiments were performed under different conditions by varying the composition and number of inlet streams, the column pressure, the reboiler power, and the reflux ratio. Conversions approaching 100% for both succinic acid and acetic acid were verified experimentally; succinate esters were obtained as bottom products with purities of diethyl succinate as high as 98%, and ethyl acetate was recovered in the distillate. Computer simulations based upon experimental phase equilibrium data and chemical kinetics were performed in Aspen Plus using RadFrac to reproduce steady-state results. Good agreement between experiment and simulation was observed under diverse operating conditions. The model developed here can be used to design commercial-scale systems for succinic acid production when acetic acid is also formed during the fermentation. Esterification of mixtures of succinic acid and acetic acid, commonly produced via fermentation of biomass carbohydrates, with ethanol in a continuous reactive distillation unit has been studied. Experiments were carried out in a 6 m tall, 51 mm diameter pilot-scale stainless steel column with the reactive zone consisting of Katapak-SP11 structured packing containing Amberlyst 70 cation exchange resin as catalyst. Noncatalytic BX structured gauze packing was used in stripping and enrichment sections. Steady-state experiments were performed under different conditions by varying the composition and number of inlet streams, the column pressure, the reboiler power, and the reflux ratio. Conversions approaching 100% for both succinic acid and acetic acid were verified experimentally; succinate esters were obtained as bottom products with purities of diethyl succinate as high as 98%, and ethyl acetate was recovered in the distillate. Computer simulations based upon experimental phase equilibrium data and chemical kinetics were performed in Aspen Plus using RadFrac to reproduce steady-state results. Good agreement between experiment and simulation was observed under diverse operating conditions. The model developed here can be used to design commercial-scale systems for succinic acid production when acetic acid is also formed during the fermentation.

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