Simulated moving-bed reactor (SMBR) is a multifunctional reactor wherein in situ separation of the products facilitates the reversible reaction to completion beyond thermodynamic equilibrium and at the same time obtaining products of high purity. In this work, we investigate the feasibility of introducing variances in adsorption strength, which has recently been proven to effectively improve SMB performance for pure separation, into an SMB system to include reactions. Synthesis of methyl acetate catalyzed by amberlyst 15 is considered as model system. Numerical simulations were carried out for an SMBR unit consisting of four columns and operated with various temperature distributions in the range of 308–323 K. SMBR productivities were evaluated and compared under the constraints of complete conversion and complete product separation. The effects of kinetics, heat transfer efficiency and adsorption strength of reactant were systematically investigated. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 59: 4705–4714, 2013
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