Kinetics of methyl lactate formation over the ion exchange resin catalysts

Özen, Serap Akbelen
The recovery of lactic acid from its dilute aqueous solutions is a major problem. The ester of lactic acid, namely, methyl lactate has a wide range of applications. The esterification of an aqueous solution of lactic acid with methanol is a reversible reaction. As excess of amount water is present in the reaction mixture, the conversion is greatly restricted by the chemical reaction equilibrium limitations. In this study the esterification kinetics of lactic acid with methanol both in the absence and presence of an ion exchange resin as a heterogeneous acid catalyst was investigated with isothermal batch experiments between 40 - 70 0 C and at atmospheric pressure. Self-polymerization of lactic acid was enlightened by considering the hydrolysis reaction of lactoyllactic acid at the reaction temperatures and at various initial concentrations. Both homogeneous and heterogeneous reaction rate constants were evaluated. Methyl lactate process development was also investigated. The process was based on the recovery of 10% lactic acid by reaction with methanol in a absorption column using ion-exchange resin Lewatit SPC-112 H+. The effect of various parameters including lactic acid concentration or reactant molar ratio, lactic acid feed flow rate, methanol and inert carrier rate on reactor performance were studied. The reaction of methyl lactate formation over the ion exchange resin catalyst was observed to be slower than the mass transfer rate whereas mass transfer of methanol in gas phase was the limiting step for methanol transfer to the liquid mixture. Mass transfer of water from liquid phase to the gas phase was controlled by the mass transfer resistance of liquid phase. Thus, it can be concluded that the counter-current gas-liquid reactors with acidic solid catalysts can be used as simultaneous reaction and separation equipment.


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Citation Formats
S. A. Özen, “Kinetics of methyl lactate formation over the ion exchange resin catalysts,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2004.