Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version

4-2012

Abstract

This report contains a preliminary process design for a direct route to phenol from benzene based on the 2009 patent issued to the Council of Scientific Research in New Delhi. This patent describes a significantly improved method to produce phenol using a vanadyl pyrophosphate catalyst. The process evades over-oxidized byproducts and yield loss. The resulting design produces the desired 500 million pounds per year of phenol by combining the ideas presented in the patent and adjustments made by the design group. The optimal process presented utilizes two parallel series of three reactors each to produce the phenol. Through a combination of azeotropic distillation and flash vaporization, it is possible to achieve greater than 99 percent pure phenol as a product while recycling all components not consumed. The plant requires a capital investment of 85.7 million USD with an internal rate of return of 4.98 percent and return on investment of 1.48 percent. It is suggested that the research and development department greatly improve the catalyst activity while maintaining the selectivity to phenol. Such improvements would enable the plant presented in this design to be economically feasible based on the current market for phenol.

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Date Posted: 20 August 2012