(598n) Steady-State Analysis of Reactive Distillation for Simultaneous Etherification of Methanol and Hydrolysis of Methyl Acetate

Hshieh, J. M. - Presenter, Chang Gung University
Wang, G. B., Chang Gung University

Till now distillation is the most widely used method of separation in the chemical process industry. Reactive distillation (RD) is well known as a process that combines reaction and separation in a single unit. Recently RD has drawn considerable attention due to its potential advantages over traditional processes.

It is known a large amount of methyl acetate (MA) is produced as a by-product from purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plants and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) plants. Since the added value of this kind of MA is low, it is beneficial for PTA and PVA industries to effectively convert MA to more valuable products. Dimetyl ether (DME) has wide application, such as solvent, propellant, chemical intermediate, refrigerant replacement and transportation fuel. Recently, DME has attracted attention as an alternative fuel for diesel and LPG substitute due to less emission of pollutants such as CO, NOx and particulate. Thus DME will be much used in fuel industries.

In industrial processes, DME is traditionally produced by dehydration of methanol using solid acidic porous catalyst in a fixed-bed reactor, followed by several distillation columns. MA is in general hydrolyzed in a fixed-bed reactor packed with cation exchange resin, also followed by a series of distillation columns. In recent years, the above mentioned process for methanol etherification and process for the hydrolysis of methyl acetate have been investigated and simulated in a reactive distillation (RD) process, respectively.

This work tries to develop alternative reactive distillation processes for simultaneously treating the etherification of methanol and the hydrolysis of methyl acetate to form valuable and high pure dimetyl ether and acetic acid. In our previous studies, this two-step reaction scheme with separation can be simulated in a single RD column which built on commercial process simulator platform. Valuable products with high purity can be formed under suitable feed ratio of methyl acetate to methanol.

Keywords: Reactive distillation, Etherification, Hydrolysis, Clean fuel, Process simulation