BSc-project description

Coach: Lisette Sprakel

Developing a process for the recovery of succinic acid

Separation of carboxylic acids from aqueous streams can be performed by distillation and/or extractive distillation. Especially in the case of similar boiling points, the process of liquid-liquid extraction is a promising alternative. In the process of liquid – liquid extraction the acids are extracted from the feed by a solvent. An important factor is the regeneration of this solvent and obtaining the more pure carboxylic acids. Several options are available for the regeneration of the solvent, for example temperature swing regeneration. However, for thermally less stable compounds such as lactic and succinic acid, diluent swing regeneration might be more favorable.

A diluent swing process consists of two parts: the first extraction is carried out in a solvent with a diluent that increases the distribution of acid into the organic solvent phase. The second step is changing this solvent phase by removing the diluent or adding a different diluent that decreases the distribution into a fresh aqueous phase. In general the shift of the equilibrium is high for low concentrations of acid. The system of succinic acid with Alamine 336 in chloroform/heptane can be used as the benchmark and is reported in literature.

This BSc project focuses on the diluent-swing recovery of succinic acid after extraction from aqueous streams.

The main elements of this BSc project are:


Literature study of extraction and regeneration processes in the separation of succinic acid.


Volatile or nonvolatile active diluent?


What unit operations are used


Screening of possible active and inactive diluents


Determine experimentally the liquid- liquid equilibria at different solvent compositions.


Conceptual process design.