Reactive distillation column for esterification of lauric with methanol: Equilibrium vs. nonequilibrium approaches

Nghi Nguyen, Yaşar Demirel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


A reactive distillation is developed for esterification of lauric acid with methanol using solid catalyst. The reactive distillation column consists of two separation zones and a reaction zone. A super-acid catalyst such as sulfate zirconia is the most suitable candidate for reactive distillation application as it has similar acidic strength to sulfuric acid and highly selective even at high alcohol/acid ratios. However, high content of the water in the reaction zone causes liquid-liquid separation leading to solid catalyst deactivation and inhibition to esterification. In this study, we propose a novel approach that effectively removes the water for the equilibrium and nonequilibrium designs of the esterification of lauric acid. The simulation involves sensitivity analysis of molar reflux ratio and side heater duty on the water concentration in the reactive zone and ester purity in the product stream. Correct placement of side reboiler not only removes water effectively, but also enhances conversion rate by increasing the reaction zone temperature and reduces exergy loss considerably.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication10AIChE - 2010 AIChE Annual Meeting, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 AIChE Annual Meeting, 10AIChE - Salt Lake City, UT, United States
Duration: Nov 7 2010Nov 12 2010

Publication series

NameAIChE Annual Meeting, Conference Proceedings


Conference2010 AIChE Annual Meeting, 10AIChE
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySalt Lake City, UT


  • Esterification
  • Nonequilibrium distillation
  • Reactive distillation column
  • Sulfate zirconia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Chemistry(all)


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