Master Assignments

Development of new extractive distillation processes for separation of alcohols and ketones

Coach: Lisette Sprakel

Development of new extractive distillation processes for separation of alcohols and ketones

Separation of binary mixtures with distillation can be very energy inefficient in the case of close-boiling compounds. Ordinary distillation might even be impossible in the case of an azeotropes. In these cases reactive distillation is a promising solution. Previous research on reactive distillation of an acidic mixture revealed that the most basic extractants are not always the best choice for the overall separation process. This is because the ease of regeneration is an important factor for the success of a process.

In this research the base case will be a binary mixture of an alcohol and a ketone (i.e. 2-butanon and 2-butanol) with a low relative volatility. In industry, 2-butanon is produced by dehydrogenation of 2-butanol. One of the purification steps involves separating 2-butanon from unreacted 2-butanol.

A solvent screening will be performed using a broad range of solvents and the ease of regeneration of the solvent will also be studied. The results over the whole range of solvents for the alcohol/ketone mixture will be compared with previously obtained results for acid mixtures. The interaction between solvent and alcohol/ketone is the point of interest of this MSc project.  For further analysis of this interaction, Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC) can be applied.

The main elements of this MSc project are:

  1. Literature study
  2. Validate the experimental set-up by measuring the binary VLE for the alcohol and ketone mixture and comparing it with binary VLE data from literature.
  3. Perform a solvent screening for separating the mixture of alcohols. An ITC (Isothermal Titration Calorimetry) apparatus can be used to screen solvents for interaction with the compounds.
  4. Measure detailed VLE data for the most promising solvent.
  5. Experimentally determine the ease of regeneration of the solvents.
  6. Create a conceptual design and verify the most promising design.