Catalytic Process of Producing Acetic Acid with Methanol and Carbon Monoxide


Most synthetic acetic acid is produced using the Cativa process.  This process converts methanol and carbon monoxide to acetic acid using an iridum/ruthenium catalyst according to the following reaction:


A schematic of the reaction is shown in Figure 1. Methanol and carbon monoxide are fed in a stoichiometric ratio into the catalytic reactor which operates at 35 bara and 325 °C. The reaction proceeds to 85% conversion. The products exiting the reactor are passed into a flash drum which operates at 33 bara and 270 °C. The flash drum is fed cooling water available at 25 °C and which exits at 42 °C. You may assume that the flash drum condenses all of the actetic acid fed to it and does not condense any of the methanol or carbon monoxide.  For a flow rate of 25,000 kg/hr of methanol into the reactor, determine:

a)    The flow rates of all components (in kg/sec) of streams 1 through 5.  
b)    The rate of cooling (in kW) required by the flash drum
c)    The flow rate of water (in kg/sec) required by the flash drum.
d)    Methanol is available at 1.5 bara and 25 °C.  It is passed into a pump where its pressure is increased isothermally to 36 bara.  The methanol is then passed through a heat exchanger where it is heated to 300 °C and then sent to the reactor.  The piping before and after the pump have identical diameters and the pump operates at 65% efficiency.  Determine the minimum required power (in kW) of the pump.
e)    How could this process be made more efficient?


Heat capacity constants:
Acetic acid:

a = 94.25×10-3        b = 0                     c = 0                    d = 0

a = 50.19×10-3        b = 0.8600×10-5    c = 0.9505×10-8    d=-4.491×10-12


the question belongs to Chemical Engineering and it is about acetic acid production using methanol and carbon monoxide. The process is known as Cativa process. The solution addresses questions about the efficiency of the process.

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