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Title: Phase equilibrium studies of sulfolane mixtures containing carboxylic acids
Authors: Sithole, Nompumelelo Pretty 
Issue Date: 2012
In this work, the thermodynamics of ternary liquid mixtures involving carboxylic acids with sulfolane, hydrocarbons including cycloalkane, and alcohols are presented. In South Africa, Sasol is one of the leading companies that produce synthesis gas from low grade coal. Carboxylic acids together with many other oxygenate and hydrocarbons are produced by Sasol using the Fischer-Tropsch process. Carboxylic acids class is one of the important classes of compounds with great number of industrial uses and applications. The efficient separation of carboxylic acids from hydrocarbons and alcohols from hydrocarbons is of economic importance in the chemical industry, and many solvents have been tried and tested to improve such recovery. This work focussed on the use of the polar solvent sulfolane in the effective separation by solvent extraction and not by more common energy intensive method of distillation.
The first part of the experimental work focussed on ternary liquid-liquid equilibria of mixtures of [sulfolane (1) + carboxylic acid (2) + heptane (3) or cyclohexane or dodecane] at T = 303.15 K, [sulfolane (1) + alcohol (2) + heptane (3)] at T = 303.15 K. Carboxylic acid refers to acetic acid, propanoic acid, butanoic acid, 2-methylpropanoic acid, pentanoic acid and 3-methylbutanoic acid. Alcohol refers to methanol, ethanol, 1- propanol, 2-propanol, 1-butanol, 2-butanol, 2-methyl-1-propanol and 2-methyl-2-propanol. Ternary liquid- liquid equilibrium data are essential for the design and selection of solvents used from liquid- liquid extraction process.
Abstract vi
The separation of carboxylic acids from hydrocarbons and the alcohols from hydrocarbons is commercially lucrative consideration and is an important reason of this study. The separation of carboxylic acids or alcohols from hydrocarbons by extraction with sulfolane was found to be feasible as all selectivity values obtained are greater than 1.
The modified Hlavatý, beta (β) and log equations were fitted to the experimental binodal data measured in this work. Hlavatý gave the best overall fit as compared to beta ( ) and log function.
The NRTL (Non-Random, Two Liquid) and UNIQUAC Universal Quasichemical) model were used to correlate the experimental tie-lines and calculate the phase compositions of the ternary systems. The correlation work served three purposes:
 to summarise experimental data
 to test theories of liquid mixtures
 prediction of related thermodynamics properties.
The final part of the study was devoted to the determination of the excess molar volumes of mixtures of [sulfolane (1) + alcohol (2)] at T = 298.15 K, T = 303.15 K and T = 309.15 K. Density was used to determine the excess molar volumes of the mixtures of [sulfolane (1) + alcohols (2)]. Alcohol refers to methanol, ethanol, 1- propanol, 2-propanol, 1-butanol, 2-butanol, 2-methyl-1-propanol, 2-methyl-2-propanol.
The work was done to investigate the effect of temperature on excess molar volumes of binary mixtures of alcohols and sulfolane, as well as to get some idea of interactions involved between an alcohol and sulfolane. The excess molar volume data for each binary mixture was fitted in the Redlich–Kister equation to correlate the composition dependence of the excess property.
Submitted in fulfilment of the academic requirements for the Masters Degree in Technology: Chemistry, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2012.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Applied Sciences)

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