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1. A mixture of majorly propylene and small amounts of C2-C3 is
compressed and fed into the absorption tray column from the bottom while
concentrated H2SO4 is fed in from the top. Here the sulfonation reaction will take
place (reactive absorption)
2. This reaction is highly exothermic and therefore a cooling arrangement is
needed to keep the temperature under control.
3. After the reaction the unreacted light ends leave the top of the column as
part of a gas stream while the sulfonated product rich stream leaves the bottom
of the column as part of the liquid stream.
4. This sulfonated products stream is sent to a hydrolyzer cum stripper
where water is added in the form of steam
5. In this section the sulfonated esters get converted into a mixture of
Isopropanol, diisopropyl ether, water and other organic impurities.
6. Here due to high existing stripper temperatures a vapor stream is formed
consisting of Isopropanol,water, diisopropyl ether and unreacted propylene which
is sent to a partial condenser.
7. At the same time dilute sulfuric acid leaves the stripper as a liquid stream
and is sent to a re-concentration unit for reuse in the process.
8. In the partial condenser unreacted propylene separates out as a gas
stream while IPA+ether+water is separated as a liquid stream.
9. The recovered propylene is subjected to a water wash to remove trace
impurities which are soluble. This pure propylene is then sent to the feed for reuse in the reaction.
10. The IPA+water+ether mixture is sent to a ether column (distillation
column) where diisopropyl ether separates and leaves from the top and is again
fed to the reactor to form IPA
11. The bottoms (alcohol+water) is then sent to another distillation column
(IPA column) where water + heavy organic products leave from the bottom while
a 87% IPA + 13% water which is an azeotropic mixture leaves from the top.
12. This azeotropic mixture is fed into a azeotropic distillation column where
diisopropyl ether is added as an azeotropic agent. As a result of this the bottom
product consists of 99% IPA while the top consists of a low boiling azeotrope of


For the first stage reaction ( Sulfonation/absorption) the following mainly 2 types of units
are used -

1.) Bubble Reactor : a.) Consists of a sparger that is used to release propylene
which is the feed in the form of bubbles into the reactor, while
concentrated H2SO4 is fed into the reactor as a liquid
b.) The reaction rates depend on the bubble sizes and hence
nozzle size of the sparger as well as on the rate of bubbling
c.) Operating conditions: 0.7-1.8 MPa and 20-30 degrees

2.) Tray Absorption column :


Since the reaction is extremely exothermic there is a need for controlling the
temperatures. Depending on whether bubble reactor is used or absorption columns are
used for the first stage 2 types of heat exchangers are useda.) Internal Cooling Coil: In case of bubble reactors internal cooling coil set-up is used
with refrigerated brine being used as a coolant

b.) Jacketed cooling: Can be used in both cases

Direct Hydration of propylene

The principal difference between the direct and indirect processes is the much higher
pressures needed to react propylene directly with water.
1. Here vaporized stream of propylene and water is passed through an acidic
catalyst bed (H3PO4 supported on SiO2) at 240260C and 2.56.6 MPa (2565
atm). A fixed bed catalyst is an ideal reactor for this system.
2. The gas stream from the reactor is cooled and fed to a scrubber where the
remaining isopropyl alcohol is removed with same procedure as in indirect
Process Flow Diagram:

Chemical Reactors:
For the hydration reaction, the following 2 types of reactors are used generally.
Trickle bed reactors:
This reactor is used for vapour-liquid phase hydration.The gas and liquid co-currently
flow downward over a fixed bed of catalyst particles. Approximate dimensions of
commercial trickle-bed reactors are a height of 10 m and a diameter of 2 m.

Fixed Bed Reactors:

Catalytic Distillation of Propene

The conventional process of direct hydration of propylene, though being the preferred
process of IPA manufacture over indirect hydration, requires the use of complex
distillation columns to recover IPA from the product stream which is technically difficult
and expensive. Catalytic distillation is a simpler and less expensive alternative to this
Catalytic Distillation comprises the processes of heterogeneous catalytic reaction and
multistage distillation which are carried out in a single vessel. This column replaces the
separate fixed-bed reactor and the series of distillation columns which in turn reduces
the number of process vessels and the associated capital costs.
The propylene hydration and IPA etherification process proceeds simultaneously in the
catalyst beds. The core of the catalytic distillation is the catalytic distillation column as
shown in the figure. This column has 3 main sections:
1) The reactions (Hydration of propylene to IPA and the etherification of IPA
to DIPE) occurs over one or more catalyst beds mounted in the middle section of
the column along with distillation on the separation plates in the column.
2) Rectification of the volatile components of the reaction mixture occurs in
the top section.Unreacted volatile gases rise from the reaction zone and reach
the rectifying section where they are separated from the heavier components
before being released into the atmosphere.
3) Liquid product is recovered from the bottom of a lower stripping section.
Condensed material from the reaction zone falls into the stripping section in the
form of liquid. The stripping section mainly comprises of an azeotropic mixture of
The optimum configuration of the column has been found out to be a column having
spaced apart dual catalyst beds, an upper rectifying section having two plates and the
stripping section consisting of 21 plates. The operating pressure range of the CD
column is 0.1-5 MPa.



1. http://chempedia.info/info/152024/
2. http://nptel.ac.in/courses/103103029/18
3. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/0471238961.0919151612150719.a01/p
4. http://www.nt.ntnu.no/users/skoge/prost/proceedings/aiche2004/pdffiles/papers/545e.pdf
5. Fixed Bed https://www.google.co.in/url?
6. https://books.google.co.in/books?
7. http://www.scribd.com/doc/81025552/Detailed-Production-Process-of-IPA#scribd
8. http://chempedia.info/page/1610420701852292212361151162212351700941871
9. Trickle bed reactor http://chempedia.info/info/152024/
10. https://docs.google.com/viewer?