Reactive chromatography (RC) combines reaction and chromatography in a single unit. Due to simultaneous separation of products it can be advantageously used for reversible reactions to obtain the enhanced performance. It is a promising alternative to reactive distillation when the components are temperature sensitive and less volatile. In the present work, we study the application of RC for the synthesis of 2-ethylhexyl acetate through esterification of acetic acid with 2-ethylhexanol. Amberlyst-15 has been used as a catalyst/adsorbent. Several aspects such as reaction kinetics, multicomponent adsorption equilibria, and reaction-separation study using fixed bed chromatographic reactor are covered. The kinetics was studied in a stirred batch reactor. The effects of various parameters such as speed of agitation, particle size, temperature, mole ratio of reactants, and catalyst loading have been investigated. Kinetic modeling was performed using modified activity based Langmuir-Hinshelwood-Hougen-Watson (LHHW) model. Non-reactive binary adsorption experiments were performed to determine the parameters of Langmuir adsorption isotherm by minimizing the errors between the experimental and predicted breakthrough curves. Further, the reactive chromatography experiments were performed to obtain the reactive breakthrough curves which indicate a clear potential for the use of reactive chromatography for this reaction. The obtained data has been compared with the predictions of mathematical model of the chromatographic reactor.
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