Methyl stearate transesterification with n-Butanol: Process intensification using distillation with external side reactors

Venkata K S Pappu, Aspi Kolah, Carl T. Lira, Dennis J. Miller

    Research output: ResearchConference contribution

    Abstract

    Fatty acid butyl esters (FABE) are commercially important chemicals used in a wide range of applications such as lubricants, emulsifiers, detergents, and as biofuel constituents. An alternate approach to direct esterification of fatty acids for producing higher alcohol esters is to first make the fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) via traditional base catalysis and then transesterify FAME with other alcohols using heterogeneous catalysts to produce the desired esters. In previous work, we have characterized kinetics of methyl stearate transesterification with n-butanol using Amberlyst 15; this reaction is slow at 90°C even with a very large excess of butanol. Above 90°C or at high catalyst loadings, ether formation takes place, liberating water which leads to hydrolysis of the esters. Conventional reactive distillation will likely be uneconomical for this reaction system because of the slow reaction rate and temperature limitations. We present here a study that evaluates the potential of carrying out reactive distillation in a column with external side reactors for continuous transesterification of FAME with n-butanol. Process simulation using AspenPlus describes column performance as a function of operating conditions, the number of side reactors utilized, and location of side draws and re-entry points in the column. The column configuration that maximizes conversion of the methyl ester to its butyl counterpart is described.

    LanguageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publication11AIChE - 2011 AIChE Annual Meeting, Conference Proceedings
    StatePublished - 2011
    Event2011 AIChE Annual Meeting, 11AIChE - Minneapolis, MN, United States
    Duration: Oct 16 2011Oct 21 2011

    Other

    Other2011 AIChE Annual Meeting, 11AIChE
    CountryUnited States
    CityMinneapolis, MN
    Period10/16/1110/21/11

    Profile

    Stearates
    1-Butanol
    Transesterification
    Distillation
    Esters
    Butenes
    Fatty Acids
    Fatty acids
    Alcohols
    Catalysts
    Butanols
    Biofuels
    Reentry
    Distillation columns
    Esterification
    Detergents
    Ether
    Catalysis
    Reaction rates
    Lubricants

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Chemical Engineering(all)

    Cite this

    Methyl stearate transesterification with n-Butanol : Process intensification using distillation with external side reactors. / Pappu, Venkata K S; Kolah, Aspi; Lira, Carl T.; Miller, Dennis J.

    11AIChE - 2011 AIChE Annual Meeting, Conference Proceedings. 2011.

    Research output: ResearchConference contribution

    Pappu, VKS, Kolah, A, Lira, CT & Miller, DJ 2011, Methyl stearate transesterification with n-Butanol: Process intensification using distillation with external side reactors. in 11AIChE - 2011 AIChE Annual Meeting, Conference Proceedings. 2011 AIChE Annual Meeting, 11AIChE, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 10/16/11.
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    AU - Pappu,Venkata K S

    AU - Kolah,Aspi

    AU - Lira,Carl T.

    AU - Miller,Dennis J.

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    N2 - Fatty acid butyl esters (FABE) are commercially important chemicals used in a wide range of applications such as lubricants, emulsifiers, detergents, and as biofuel constituents. An alternate approach to direct esterification of fatty acids for producing higher alcohol esters is to first make the fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) via traditional base catalysis and then transesterify FAME with other alcohols using heterogeneous catalysts to produce the desired esters. In previous work, we have characterized kinetics of methyl stearate transesterification with n-butanol using Amberlyst 15; this reaction is slow at 90°C even with a very large excess of butanol. Above 90°C or at high catalyst loadings, ether formation takes place, liberating water which leads to hydrolysis of the esters. Conventional reactive distillation will likely be uneconomical for this reaction system because of the slow reaction rate and temperature limitations. We present here a study that evaluates the potential of carrying out reactive distillation in a column with external side reactors for continuous transesterification of FAME with n-butanol. Process simulation using AspenPlus describes column performance as a function of operating conditions, the number of side reactors utilized, and location of side draws and re-entry points in the column. The column configuration that maximizes conversion of the methyl ester to its butyl counterpart is described.

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