HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Paris, France or Virtually from your home or work.
Kapil Satya Pal Singh, Speaker at Catalysis Conferences
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
Title : Synthesis of 2-phenyl ethyl acetate using cation exchange resin in multifactional reactors


2-phenyl ethyl acetate (PEAct) is an aromatic flavor ester used in our day-to-day life, such as soaps, deodorants, cosmetics, etc. Synthetically, it can be manufactured by esterification of 2-phenyl ethyl alcohol and acetic acid in the presence of an acidic catalyst. It is an equilibrium-limited reaction, and for such reactions to achieve complete conversion of limiting reactant, multifunctional reactors, which combine reaction and at least one or more functions of a process within the same unit, are the preferred choice. The two multifunctional reactors that have drawn researchers' interest are reactive chromatography (RC) and reactive distillation (RD). The working principle of RC is the relative affinities of the components towards the solid phase/catalyst, while RD works on the principle of relative volatilities of the component. Not enough research on the comparison of RC and RD has been published in the literature. In our study, the energy consumption and catalyst loading of the two reactors for PEAct synthesis have been compared. Furthermore, an analogy with the conventional process has been conducted.  Starting off, kinetics studies were conducted in a batch reactor using Amberlyst-15 as the catalyst. Numerous factors, including temperature, catalyst loading, the molar ratio of feed, stirring speed, and so on, were examined for their effects. By using the acquired kinetic data, the pseudo-homogeneous power law model kinetic parameters were determined by comparing experimental versus simulation data in MATLAB. For RC, its feasibility was studied in batch RC i.e., a fixed bed chromatographic reactor (FBCR) through experiments. Fitting the FBCR model equation and determining the adsorption parameter were done using the experimental data. The adsorption parameters obtained were further used for continuous RC, i.e., simulated moving bed reactor (SMBR) design using MATLAB, to arrive at the optimal solutions. For RD, the simulations were carried out in Aspen plus 12.0, and the validation of the simulation was carried out in a laboratory-scale setup.

Audience Takeaway:

  • SMBR has a total of thirteen degrees of freedom, which makes its design a challenging task.
  • Numerical methods coupled with computational optimization tools are computationally intensive.
  • We have used an alternative approach i.e., triangle theory, and arrived at the optimal designs that ensured >99% pure PEAct from the product stream.
  • RD simulations were carried out Aspen Plus 12.0 to propose a continuous process of >99% purity PEAct.
  • Then, a comparison was made in both RC and RD based on energy consumption and catalyst loading.


Dr. Kapil is currently in the final stage of his Ph.D. He conducted his research under the guidance of Prof. Sanjay Mahajani in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. Prior to this, he obtained his Master's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, also in Chemical Engineering. His academic journey began with a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Kanpur. He is now seeking additional research opportunities where he can use his expertise and contribute to the field.