An equilibrium-limited reaction was identified as a candidate for reactive distillation, which would potentially offer substantially reduced investment and operating costs. The separations were modeled with Aspen Plus, which helped identify several process options for reactive distillation. However, kinetic information on the rates of the catalyzed reactions involved were not known. Laboratory experiments were designed and carried out to investigate the rates of the reversible reactions involved. A column was then assembled to evaluate the reactions in a continuous flow system. The results were incorporated into the Aspen model for design of a pilot plant.
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