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Keywords:

  • homogeneous catalysis;
  • hydrolysis;
  • kinetics;
  • supercritical fluids;
  • sustainable chemistry

Abstract

Supercritical nitrile hydrolysis can be used for both, amide and acid production as well as waste water treatment, as the hydrolysis products show good biodegradability. The conventional process at ambient conditions requires large amounts of mineral acid or base. Approaches that use supercritical water as a green solvent without a catalyst have been investigated over recent years. Findings for valeronitrile hydrolysis presented recently showed promising reaction rates and valeric acid yields. In an attempt to further maximize product yield and to better understand the impact of the pH, reactions in dilute sulfuric acid (0.01 mol L−1) were performed in a continuous high-pressure laboratory-scale apparatus at 400–500 °C, 30 MPa, and a maximum residence time of 100 s. Results from both reaction media were compared with regard to productivity and sustainability.