Continuous-flow liquid-phase dehydrogenation of 1,4-cyclohexanedione in a structured multichannel reactor

Muhammad Arsalan Ashraf, Julia Tan, Matthew G Davidson, Steven Bull, Marc Hutchby, Davide Mattia, Pawel Plucinski

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A highly selective, scalable and continuous-flow process is developed for the liquid-phase dehydrogenation of 1,4-cyclohexanedione to hydroquinone in a millimetre-scale structured multichannel reactor. The square shaped channels (3 mm × 3 mm) were filled with 10 wt% Pd/C catalyst particles and utilized for the dehydrogenation reaction in single-pass and recycle modes. For the purpose to enhance process understanding and to maximize conversion and selectivity by process optimization, Design of Experiment (DoE) methodology was utilized by studying the effect of operating parameters on the catalytic performance in kinetic regime. The results demostrated the strong influence of temperature and liquid feed flow on the conversion and selectivity, with liquid feed and N₂ flows influencing pressure drop significantly. A multi-objective optimization methodology was used to identify the optimum process window with the aid of sweet spot plots, with design space plots developed to establish acceptable boundaries for process parameters. In single-pass mode, complete conversion per pass per channel was not achievable whereas conversion increased from 59.8% in one-channel to 78.3% for two-channel-in-series while maintaining selectivity (> 99%) with intermediate hydrogen removal. However, for without intermediate H₂ removal step, selectivity was declined from > 99% in one-channel to 82.3% at the outlet of second-channel. In recycle mode, dehydrogenation reaction was resulted in almost complete conversion (> 99%) with very high selectivity (> 99%) and yield (> 98%). This combination of mm-scale multichannel reactor and DoE methodology opens the way to developing highly selective and scalable dehydrogenation proocesses in the fine chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalReaction Chemistry & Engineering
Issue number1
Early online date6 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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