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Separation Process Engineering: Includes Mass Transfer Analysis, Third Edition by Phillip C. Wankat

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8.8 Distillation with Chemical Reaction

Distillation columns are occasionally used as chemical reactors. The advantage of this approach is that distillation and reaction can take place simultaneously in the same vessel, and the products can be removed to drive the reversible reaction to completion. The most common industrial application is for the formation of esters from a carboxylic acid and an alcohol. For example, the manufacture of methyl acetate by reactive distillation was a major success that conventional processes could not compete with (Biegler et al., 1997). Reactive distillation was first patented by Backhaus in 1921 and has been the subject of many patents since then (see Doherty and Malone, 2001; Doherty et al., 2008; and Siirola ...

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