Ethylene Glycol Synthesis with a Reactive Distillation Unit

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This Demonstration simulates a reactive distillation (RD) column that produces ethylene glycol, EG, from water and ethylene oxide, EO.


The reaction is EO + water → EG.

The column is fed with a mixture of water and EO at stage 2 (a small excess of water is used). The reactive section is composed of only stage 1. The column has five stages, a partial reboiler, and a partial condenser (with a reflux stream and one vapor stream leaving this section).

For low Damköhler numbers (with molar hold-up of zero), EG is not formed and the only species present in the column are water and EO.

At high Damköhler numbers, we get almost pure EG as a bottom and pure water as a top vapor stream. The reflux and reboil ratios are taken equal to 1000 and 40. Thus, the vapor stream leaving the top section of the RD column has a very small flow rate.


Contributed by: Housam Binous, Manel Selmi, Ines Wada, Selima Allouche, and Ahmed Bellagi (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



F. Chen, R. S. Huss, M. F. Malone, and M. F. Doherty, "Simulation of Kinetic Effects in Reactive Distillation," Computers and Chemical Engineering, 24(11), 2000 pp. 2457–2472.

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