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Abstract

The kinetics of a semibatch melt transesterification of dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) with ethylene glycol (EG) is studied with zinc acetate as a catalyst. This paper quantifies the effect of various reactor operating conditions on the transesterification rate and the product composition distribution. Our experiments support the assumption that the methylesters in DMT and growing oligomer chains have the same reactivities for transesterification with EG and that the reactivity of hydroxyl groups in pure EG for esterification with DMT is twice that of the hydroxyl group in oligomers. With a molecular species model in which various oligomers are identified by the type of functional end groups, the progress of the transesterification and the oligomer concentration distribution were estimated and the agreement between the model predictions and the experimental data were excellent. It has also been shown that 30 wt. % of oligomers are produced for [EG]/[DMT] molar ratio of three, and up to 70 wt. % oligomers are produced at the [EG]/[DMT] molar ratio of one.