In this study, the reactive batch distillation of ethylene glycol monoacetate (EGMA) and ethylene glycol diacetate (EGDA) was investigated experimentally and numerically via the esterification reaction of acetic acid (AA) and monoethylene glycol (MEG) in the presence of heterogeneous titanium (IV) isopropoxide catalyst. Four operating parameters, including time (4-12 hr), temperature (60-100°C), the molar ratio of acetic acid to ethylene glycol (0.4-2.2 M), and catalyst weight (1-5wt%), were selected to design experiments, model and optimize the process through the response surface methodology (RSM). By applying the central composite design (CCD) method in RSM, two linear and second-order models were proposed for the responses of MEG conversion and EGD selectivity. The response surface plots showed that the reaction temperature and time had a more significant effect on increasing the reaction yield, while the molar ratio of reactants and catalyst weight were two critical parameters in increasing selectivity. The results of process optimization to maximize the responses indicated that the optimum process point in the operating range was at 9.5 hr, the temperature of 90°C, the molar ratio of 2.92:1, and catalyst weight of 2wt% where the predicted MEG conversion and selectivity were 100% and 94.72%, respectively. The MEG conversion reduced from 91.1% to 56.7% after using the catalyst four times.
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