Key to achieving this target will be the ability to identify whether a candidate catalyst could be suitable as early as possible, ideally using information available from knowledge of the catalyst structure. The approach of this research is to correlate catalyst descriptors/properties to performance in a reactive distillation unit. The case study used is batch and semi-batch reactive distillation for the esterification of long-chain fatty acids. Potential catalysts are experimentally studied at small scale in a high throughput Chemspeed SLT 106 synthesizer. The Chemspeed unit cannot replicate distillation, so a dynamic reactive distillation simulation is employed, built in BatchCAD TM software. Further investigation is performed in a pilot scale batch reactive distillation unit, providing experimental information about the catalyst performance and validation of the strategy.
1. Malone, M. F. and Doherty, M. F. (2000) Reactive Distillation, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 39, 3953-3957