Comparative reactor designs for the liquid phase oxidation of ethylene



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The performance of the gas sparged reactor, the continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR), and the multistage reactor, applied to the liquid phase oxidation of ethylene to acetaldehyde, using a homogeneous catalyst were studied. The catalytic oxidation of ethylene, developed by Wacker Chemie, has two variations: 1) the two reactor process (using air), and 2) the one reactor process (using oxygen). The catalyst is palladium chloride which is regenerated by cupric chloride. The kinetics of variation (1) were simplified to a reliable model for which reaction or enhancement factors were obtained using the film theory and the penetration theory. The gas sparged reactor was designed employing correlations in common use. The effects of axial dispersion, in cocurrent flow, and in countercurrent flow, were taken into consideration in its design. Because of the discrepancies in the geometry and in the correlations of the design variables given in the literature, a CSTR of standard configuration with its own correlations for gas-liquid systems is proposed. These latter correlations are used for the design of the CSTR. The multistage reactor was treated as a series of CSTRs of standard configuration. Although the reaction factors were developed for precess variation (l), a gas sparged reactor can be designed for process variation (2) if care is taken to avoid the detonation limit of ethylene-oxygen mixtures. No specific details of the reactor designs have been published.