Chemical Engineering Journal Volume 401, 1 December 2020, 126126
Levulinic acid (LA) is one of the most important platform chemicals as it is a versatile building block for a variety of high value-added products, fine chemicals and pharmaceutical intermediates. Catalytic esterification of LA with alkyl alcohols leads to levulinate esters which can be used as fragrances, flavoring agents and fuel additives. In the present work, the kinetics of the levulinic acid esterification with ethanol in the presence of Amberlite IR120 was investigated in a batch reactor. The collected experimental data were interpreted with a reliable model taking into account also for the mass transfer phenomena involved in the reaction network. The kinetic model was further validated by conducting experiments in a fixed bed reactor. The reactor was characterized in terms of fluid-dynamics and the collected kinetic data were interpreted with a reliable reactor model, considering the extent of the reaction and fluid-solid mass transfer limitation.