Summary: Unsaturated polyester is traditionally produced in a batch wise operating reaction vessel connected to a distillation unit. An attractive alternative for the synthesis of unsaturated polyester is a reactive distillation. To value such alternative synthesis route reliable process models need to be developed. In this paper, the strategy is described for the development of the reactive distillation model. Essential parts of the reactive distillation model are kinetic and thermodynamic which are subsequently validated with the experimental data of the traditional batch process such as acid value of the polyester, weight of the distillate and glycol concentration in the distillate. We find that the models predict these important variables reliably. Unsaturated polyester production time is around 12 hours in the traditional batch process. However, the simulation study of the reactive distillation process shows that the total production time of unsaturated polyester in a continuous reactive distillation system is between 1.5 hours to 2 hours for the same product quality as during batch production. The equilibrium conversion is raised by 7% compared to the traditional batch process. The model demonstrated that reactive distillation has the potential to intensify the process by factor of 6 to 8 in comparison to the batch reactor.
- equilibrium model
- kinetic model
- reactive distillation
- thermodynamic model
- unsaturated polyester synthesis