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Regeneration of levulinic acid from loaded-organic phase: equilibrium, kinetic studies and process economics

Sumalatha Eda, Baby Jyothsna Kota, Prathap Kumar Thella, Satyavathi Bankupalli, Suresh K. Bhargava, and Rajarathinam Parthasarathy

School of Engineering, Chemical & Environmental Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia



Abstract: Regeneration of carboxylic acids from the loaded-organic phase is an essential step to complete the reactive extraction process. A study on the regeneration of levulinic acid from loaded-organic phase (methyl isobutyl ketone + tri-n-octylamine + acid) was carried out using various techniques including NaOH, temperature swing, diluent swing, and tri-methylamine methods. Equilibrium data obtained show that among all the methods, the recovery of acid is the highest for the tri-methylamine method when the molar ratio of tri-methylamine to levulinic acid concentrations is greater than 1. Kinetic studies performed for the tri-methylamine method showed that there are no changes in the specific rate of extraction with changes in stirrer speed rate and phase volume ratio (Vaq/Vorg), and the overall order of reaction is 1.5. Based on the effects of stirrer speed and phase volume ratio on the specific rate of extraction, the reaction was concluded to occur in the fast regime. Also, about 80% of acid was recovered by the evaporation of tri-methylamine phase at 104–140 °C. A detailed economic evaluation for the recovery of levulinic acid using reactive extraction for a feed rate of 2 m3 h−1 shows that the payback period for recovering capital investment is 0.49 years.

Keywords: Diluent; Evaporation; Regeneration; Temperature; Tri-methylamine

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-017-0188-6


Chemical Papers 71 (10) 1939–1951 (2017)

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