Removal of phenolic compounds from heptane by liquid-liquid extraction


The removal of oxygenated compounds from hydrocarbons streams is necessary because these compounds can affect the next steps of processes, reduce the purity of products, or react with the catalyst and destroy its activity. In particular, phenolic compounds are considered undesirable contaminants, because of their reactivity, corrosivity and/ or toxicity.

Extractive distillation is the most common separation process. However, its greatest constraint is the tremendous energy costs required to achieve a fluid phase system. Therefore, liquid–liquid separation can be considered as a more economical and environmentally beneficial option. Due to the special characteristics of polyethylene glycol (PEG) such as non-toxicity, low cost, ease of use, strongly hydrophilic, this polymer was selected as extractant solvent.

In this work, the liquid-liquid extraction of phenolic compounds such as phenol, acetophenone, methylacetophenone, and diacetylbencene from heptane using PEG as solvent will be studied at room temperature. Moreover, the relation between molecular properties and affinities between solvent and oxygenates will be evaluated using isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC).

Goals of this BSc-research project:

Perform the liquid-liquid extraction of phenolic compounds from heptane using PEG as solvent and measure of the affinity between solvent and components in the mixture. Evaluation of PEG as solvent and comparison with common solvents used in industry such as methanol/water, propanol, ethylene glycol or acetonitrile.


Develop the analytical method in GC.

Study the interactions of the solutes with the selected solvents with ITC

Liquid-liquid extraction experiments and the solvent to feed ratio evaluation.

Compare the solvent PEG and derivates with the typical solvents in the industry.

Solvent recovery.