The present invention concerns the development of an alternative process for acetals production, achieving 100% of aldehyde conversion, without using additional organic solvents and without by-products formation.
The present invention is a process for the industrial production of acetals using a simulated moving bed reactor (SMBR) system to accomplish the simultaneous conversion of reactants (aldehydes and alcohols) to acetals and the separation of reaction products (acetals and water). The SMB reactor consists in a series of columns that are packed with a solid or mixture of solids effective for catalyzing the reaction between aldehydes and alcohols and for separating the reactions products by selective adsorption of at least one product.
The acetals with chemical structure R2-CH-(O-R1)2 are oxygenated compounds produced by the reaction between an aldehyde (R2-CHO) and alcohol (R1-OH) in the presence of an acid catalyst. Traditionally, the reaction is catalyzed by mineral or carboxylic acids. The disadvantage of using soluble catalyst is that they must be neutralized after reaction and separated from the product.
The purpose of the present invention is to provide an alternative process for acetals manufacture, achieving 100% of aldehyde conversion, without using additional organic solvents and without by products formation.
The acetals produced by the present invention are used in the formulation of perfumes and in the flavouring of alcoholic beverages. Acetal also finds widespread use as intermediate for the synthesis of various industrial chemicals used for agriculture and pharmaceuticals (vitamins and analgesics).
Particularly, acetaldehyde diethylacetal is used as solvent and intermediate in the process where the protection of carboxylic groups of aldehydes is needed. Diethylacetal is also used as diesel oil additive, since decreases the emissions of particles and NOx.