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Critical Assessment of Using an Ionic Liquid as Entrainer via Extractive Distillation

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journal contribution
posted on 21.06.2017, 00:00 by Hung-Hsin Chen, Meng-Kai Chen, Bor-Chang Chen, I-Lung Chien
Ionic liquids (ILs) have received much attention in the last two decades. One of the important applications is to use this relatively new class of compounds for the separation of azeotropic mixtures via extractive distillation. In this paper, overall extractive distillation processes of two azeotropic separation systems using a favorable ionic liquid as entrainer are rigorously developed. The optimized design flowsheets are compared with the conventional processes using an industrial entrainer. The two ionic liquid extractive distillation systems include separating acetone and methanol using 1,3-dimethylimidazolium dimethylphosphate ([MMIM]­[DMP]) as entrainer and another system of separating isopropyl alcohol and water using 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([EMIM]­[OAC]) as entrainer. The potential drawbacks of using an ionic liquid in the extractive distillation systems are given in the paper. It is found that the degradation temperature and high normal boiling point temperature of the ionic liquids in these two systems require the IL processes to use high vacuum operating conditions, thus making them only economically comparable to the conventional processes.