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Intensified Azeotropic Distillation: A Strategy for Optimizing Direct Amidation

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journal contribution
posted on 18.05.2012, 00:00 by Christophe Grosjean, Julie Parker, Carl Thirsk, Allen R. Wright
The direct synthesis of amides from the corresponding carboxylic acids and amines is shown to operate under varying degrees of mixed kinetic and mass transfer rate control when water is removed by azeotropic distillation. Unless the volumetric heat input rate is reported, it is not possible to make a valid comparison between different catalysts, as the difference in Qboil alone can be responsible for the apparent difference in observed rate. A systematic approach is developed to quantify the contribution of boil-up rate to conversion rate and so decouple the physical rates from the chemistry. Intensive boiling is used to improve the removal of water during azeotropic distillation and considerably enhance conversion. The results show that some acylations previously thought to be difficult or impossible can be achieved in the absence of coupling agents under green conditions. The use of a cascade of CSTR flow reactors operating under intensified conditions is assessed for scale up of direct amidation reactions and compared to a production scale batch reactor. The findings and conclusions of this work have general applicability to all condensation reactions.

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