Simulation of an Industrial-Scale Reactive Liquid–Liquid Extraction Tower Using Polar PC-SAFT Toward Understanding and Improving the Hydrolysis of Triglycerides

Pieter Nachtergaele*, Gürkan Sin, Steven De Meester, Ewout Ruysbergh, Jeroen Lauwaert, Jo Dewulf, Joris W. Thybaut

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

A comprehensive model for simulation and optimization of industrial-scale splitting towers that is able to predict the yield for the hydrolysis of bio-based triglyceride feedstocks is presented in this work. This model includes a variable glycerol equilibrium ratio, which is a function of the composition and temperature and is calculated using the polar version of the perturbed chain statistical association fluid theory (PC-SAFT), the autocatalytic effect of fatty acids in hydrolysis, and isomerization of poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Model validation is performed using process data from three real-life splitting towers covering four feedstock types, i.e., tallow, rapeseed oil, palm oil, and palm fatty acid distillate. Due to the composition gradients of the organic phase throughout the tower, it is crucial to properly account for the changes in the glycerol equilibrium ratio. The importance of feedstock flow rate, water/oil ratio, and temperature profile throughout the tower is analyzed and confirmed by sensitivity analysis. Our results show that modifying the temperature profile may shift the reaction equilibrium toward the fatty acid product. This knowledge is crucial for improving the energy and resource efficiency of fatty acid production, thereby improving its economic and environmental sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Volume9
Issue number13
Pages (from-to)4735-4743
ISSN2168-0485
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Hydrolysis
  • Process simulation
  • Phase behavior
  • Lipids
  • Fatty acids
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Biorefinery

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