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Abstract

In this work the esterification of diethyl tartrate was studied. The research was focused on the enhancement of reversible reaction yield, which is accomplished by dewatering of the reaction mixture. The removal of water shifts the equilibrium towards the main product. Pervaporation was applied for this purpose, and results were compared to distillation. The advantages and limitations of both processes are discussed. The experimental part consists of dewatering of mixture after the reaction had reached the equilibrium, and was subsequently fed to the test rig equipped with a single zeolite membrane purchased from Pervatech B.V. Results show a significant conversion increase as a result of water removal by pervaporation. Compared to distillation no addition of organics is necessary to efficiently remove water above the azeotrope. Nevertheless, some limitations and issues which call for optimisation are pointed out. A simple numerical model is proposed to support design and sizing of the pervaporation system. Various modes of integrated system operation are also briefly discussed.
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