Design and Optimization of Reactive Distillation Sequences with Thermal Coupling with Minimum Number of Reboilers pp. 249-264
Authors: (María Vázquez-Ojeda, Juan Gabriel Segovia – Hernández, Salvador Hernández, Rafael Maya-Yescas, Universidad de Guanajuato, Campus Guanajuato, Departamento de Ingeniería Química, Guanajuato, Gto., Mexico, and others)
Abstract: The esterification of lauric acid and methanol is explored using thermally coupled distillation sequences with side columns and with minimum number of reboilers. The product of the esterification can be used as biodiesel. This is a major step forward since thermally coupled reactive distillation sequences with side columns and with minimum number of reboilers offer significant benefits, such as: reductions on both capital investment and operating costs due to the absence of the reboilers, higher conversion and selectivity as no products are recycled in the form of reflux or boil-up vapors, as well as no occurrence of thermal degradation of the products due to a lower temperature profile in the column. In the traditional process, lauric acid is fed as saturated liquid, while the methanol is fed as saturated vapor stream to the main column, then we can take heat from vapor stream to deliver it to the system without a reboiler. Rigorous simulations were performed in AspenTech AspenONE engineering suite to design this novel reactive distillation process and evaluate the technical and economical feasibility. The results indicate that the energy consumption of the complex distillation sequences with a side column can be reduced significantly by varying operational conditions, in comparison with conventional reactive distillation sequences.