(673d) Modeling Approach for the Scale-up of a Reactive Distillation System

Figueroa, I., Eli Lilly and Company
Viswanath, S., Eli Lilly and Company

Reactive distillations are a widely used unit operation in reactive systems that are governed by a chemical equilibrium such as esterification and ester hydrolysis reactions. The process performance often times is quantified by the distillation time and/or the reaction final yield. These are results of the coupling of phenomena that are scale-dependent (heat transfer in boiling regime, mass transfer limitations) as well as scale-independent processes (e.g.: reaction thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, calorimetry). Therefore, predicting the process performance based solely on small-scale experimentation may lead to erroneous estimations and misunderstanding of how the process variables interplay. In this work, we present a scale-up approach based on a combination of first principles modeling and experimentation. We estimate the process performance at different scales and study the sensitivity of the process to operational parameters such as heat transfer driving force, solvent recycle, removed fraction of volatile, etc. Our approach is capable of robustly predicting process outcomes at lab and pilot-plant scale and delivers a better understanding of the underlying physics governing this kind of processes.