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Catalytic hydrogenation of levulinic acid to γ-valerolactone in a trickle bed reactor. Analysis of mass transfer resistance and kinetics

Koeslag, M. A. (2016) Catalytic hydrogenation of levulinic acid to γ-valerolactone in a trickle bed reactor. Analysis of mass transfer resistance and kinetics. Master's Thesis / Essay, Chemical Engineering.

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Abstract

In the search for alternatives for fossil fuels chemicals, biobased platform chemicals can play an integral role. One important bio-based platform chemical is γ-valerolactone (GVL) that can be used as a feed for solvents, bulk chemicals and intermediates for fine chemicals. GVL can be synthesized from another platform chemical: levulinic acid (LA). In this study, the rate limiting step of the hydrogenation of levulinic acid to GVL over 0.5 wt% Ru/C catalysts has been investigated in a continuous flow trickle bed reactor (volume: 4 mL; inner diameter: 10 mm). The reaction has been performed under a hydrogen pressure at 45 bar with an inlet LA concentration of 1.2 mol/L. A series of experiments were performed with varying reaction temperature (80 - 100 °C), flow rate of pure hydrogen (1.5 – 2.5 mol/min) and catalyst amount (0.4 – 1.8 g). Two catalyst particle sizes were used: coarse (1.25 mm < dp < 2.5 mm) and fine (0.5 mm < dp < 1.25 mm). The results of experiments were compared with a simplified numerical model for the reaction rate. The numerical model was based on an equation derived to distinguish between gas absorption limitations, limitations from diffusion within the catalyst and kinetic limitations. With the agreement between the experimental data and model predictions, it is concluded that the mass transfer of hydrogen from the gas-liquid interface to the catalyst external surface is rate determining. This indicates a process intensification potential by using packed-bed microreactors to improve gas-liquid-solid mass transfer. Cold-flow testing of an empty capillary microreactor (inner diameter: 1.6 mm; length: 0.3 m) was initiated and its potential for enhancing the performance of LA hydrogenation to GVL was discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Chemical Engineering
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:30
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:30
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/15528

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