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Production of 2-phenylethyl acetate via reactive distillation

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An alternative approach to 2-phenylethyl acetate production, reactive distillation process for 2-phenylethyl acetate production from 2-phenylethanol in the presence of an inert component, n-pentane, via esterification by acetic acid is presented. The main objectives of this work were shifting of the chemical equilibrium in favour of the desired product and achieving the required product purity. In the first step, graphical mapping methods were employed to evaluate reactive distillation applicability for 2-phenylethanol esterification. To describe the system phase equilibria, thermodynamic model NRTL-HOC was used. Process feasibility was evaluated using a boiling point analysis and residue curves maps, and the process operating window was estimated. Results show that the reactive distillation concept can be used for 2-phenylethyl acetate production as suitable product compositions without serious process limitations were predicted. Total equilibrium model (phase and chemical equilibria) was used for reactive distillation column calculations performed by the Aspen Plus software. Reactive distillation column parameters were calculated and optimised according to the design criteria. Finally, optimised reactive distillation column parameters were used for temperature and concentration profile evaluation. These results form a promising base for further steps in the design of 2-phenylethyl acetate production via reactive distillation.

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D :


f :

Feed-stage position

F :


K a :

Chemical equilibrium constant


Mass flow (kg h1)

Δṅ :

Reactant consumption (kmol h1)

N :

Number of theoretical stages including reboiler and condenser

N R :

Number of reactive stages

P :

Total pressure (kPa)

\(\dot{Q}_{{\text{C}}}\) :

Condenser duty (kW)

\(\dot{Q}_{{\text{W}}}\) :

Reboiler duty (kW)

R :

Reflux ratio

t :

Temperature (°C)

t b :

Boiling temperature at atmospheric pressure (°C)

w :

Mass fraction

W :

Distillation bottom product

x :

Mole fraction in the liquid phase

X :


y :

Mole fraction in the vapour phase


Acetic acid

b :


C :


C5 :









2-Phenylethyl acetate

W :



Acetic acid

C5 :



Equilibrium stage model with reaction kinetics


Hayden–O'Connell equation of state




Bioreactor-membrane based solvent extraction


Non-equilibrium stage model with effective diffusion coefficients


Non-equilibrium stage model applying Maxwell–Stephan equations


Non-random two liquids




2-Phenylethyl acetate


Reactive distillation


Redlich–Kwong equation of state


Total equilibrium stage model




Vapour–liquid-phase equilibria




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This work was supported by the Slovak Scientific Agency, Grant no. VEGA 1/0659/18; the Slovak Research and Development Agency under contract No. APVV-16-0111 and by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under contract No. APVV-18-0134.

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Correspondence to Jozef Markoš.

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Šulgan, B., Labovská, Z. & Markoš, J. Production of 2-phenylethyl acetate via reactive distillation. Chem. Pap. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11696-020-01082-9

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  • Reactive distillation
  • Proper model selection
  • Reaction equilibrium approach
  • VLL equilibria
  • Aspen Plus simulation
  • 2-Phenylethyl acetate