Liquid-liquid equilibria related to the separation of organic acids
Xhakaza, Nokukhanya Mavis
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The thesis involves a study of the thermodynamics of ternary liquid mixtures involving carboxylic acids with sulfolane, hydrocarbons and acetonitrile. Carboxylic acids are an important group of polar compounds with many industrial and commercial uses and applications. In South Africa, these carboxylic acids together with many other oxygenates and hydrocarbons are manufactured by SASOL using the Fischer–Tropsch process. The separation of these acids from hydrocarbons is a commercially viable option, and is an important reason for this study. This work focuses on the use of sulfolane in effecting separation by solvent extraction and not by the more common and energy intensive method of distillation. Sulfolane was chosen because of its high polarity and good solvent extraction properties. The first part of this study involves the determination of excess molar volumes (VmE) of binary mixtures of sulfolane (1) + carboxylic acids (2) at different temperatures of 303.15 K and 308.15 K, where carboxylic acids refer to acetic acid, propanoic acid, butanoic acid, 2-methylpropanoic acid, pentanoic acid and 3-methylbutanoic acid respectively. The densities of the binary systems of sulfolane (1) + carboxylic acids (2) were measured at T = 303.15 K and 308.15 K. The excess molar volumes were calculated from the experimental densities at each temperature. The VmE were negative for the entire mole fractions for all the binary systems. It was found that the VmE in the systems studied increase with an increase in temperature, and also VmE decreases with an increase in the carbon chain length of the carboxylic acid. The VmE data results were correlated using Redlich-Kister equation. Abstract ii The second part was the study of the binodal or solubility curves and tie line data for the ternary systems of [sulfolane (1) + carboxylic acids (2) + hydrocarbons (3)] and [acetonitrile (1) + carboxylic acids (2) + hydrocarbon (3)]. Hydrocarbons refer to pentane, hexane, dodecane and hexadecane. The binodal curve experimental data was determined by the cloud point technique. Liquid-liquid equilibrium (LLE) phase diagrams were constructed using the mole fractions and refractive indices (nD). Tie line data were obtained for the sulfolane-rich and hydrocarbon-rich phases as well as the acetonitrile-rich and hydrocarbon-rich phases respectively. The tie lines in both cases were skewed towards the hydrocarbon-rich phases indicating that relative mutual solubility of carboxylic acids is higher in the hydrocarbon-rich phase than in the solvent-rich phase. Selectivity values were calculated from the tie-lines to determine the extraction capabilities of solvents sulfolane and acetonitrile. Selectivity values in all cases were greater than one, meaning that both sulfolane and acetonitrile can be used to separate carboxylic acids from hydrocarbons. Binodal curve data were correlated by the Hlavatý, beta (𝛽) and log𝛾 equations; average standard deviation error for Hlavatý was 0.012, for beta (𝛽), 0.023 and for log𝛾, 0.021. The NRTL and UNIQUAC models were used to correlate the experimental tie-lines. The calculated values based on the NRTL equation were found to be better than those based on UNIQUAC equation; the average root-mean square deviation, (rmsd), between the phase composition obtained from experiment and that from calculation was 0.061 for the NRTL model, as compared to 0.358 for UNIQUAC model for the ternary systems involving sulfolane. For ternary systems of acetonitrile, the NRTL equation was better than the UNIQUAC with the rsmd of 0.003 and 0.287for UNIQUAC equation.