(707c) Scalable Thin-Layer Membrane Reactor for Heterogeneous and Homogeneous Catalytic Gas–Liquid Reactions

Authors: 
Mo, Y., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Imbrogno, J., Pfizer
Zhang, H., Zhejiang University
Jensen, K. F., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Catalytic gas-liquid reactions have potential as environmentally benign methods for organic synthesis, particularly hydrogenation and oxidation reactions. However, safety and scalability are concerns in the application of gas-liquid reactions. In this work, we develop and demonstrate a scalable, sustainable, and safe thin-layer membrane reactor for heterogeneous Pd-catalyzed hydrogenations and homogenous Cu(I)/TEMPO alcohol oxidations. The implementation of a Teflon amorphous fluoroplastic (AF) membrane and porous carbon cloth in the membrane reactor provides sufficient gas-liquid mass transfer to afford superior performance compared to conventional packed-bed or trickle-bed reactors. The membrane separates the gas from the liquid, which avoids the formation of explosive mixtures for oxygenation reactions and simplifies the two-phase hydrodynamics to facilitate scale-up by stacking modules, while significantly reducing gas consumption. In addition, 3-dimensional simulations deliver insights into the mass transfer and hydrodynamic behavior to inform optimal membrane reactor design and operation.