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The application of flow reactors in multiphase catalytic reactions represents a promising approach for enhancing the efficiency of this important class of chemical reactions. We developed a simple approach to improve the reactor productivity of multiphase catalytic reactions performed using a flow chemistry unit with a packed bed reactor. Specifically, a tube-in-tube membrane contactor (sparger) integrated in-line with the flow reactor has been successfully applied to the aerobic oxidation of benzyl alcohol to benzaldehyde utilizing a heterogeneous palladium catalyst in the packed bed. We examined the effect of sparger hydrodynamics on reactor productivity quantified by space time yield (STY). Implementation of the sparger, versus segmented flow achieved with the built in gas dosing module (1) increased reactor productivity 4-fold quantified by space time yield while maintaining high selectivity and (2) improved process safety as demonstrated by lower effective operating pressures.
© 2019 by the authors. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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VCU Chemical and Life Science Engineering Publications