Production of Organic Acid Esters Using Reactive Distillation




Organic acid esters are widely used in industry as solvents, as intermediate chemicals, and in consumer products.  Ester production and utilization constitutes a multibillion dollar market.  Prior approaches to producing organic acid esters involve the traditional batch approach, which is labor intensive, can create waste (mineral acid catalyst) and requires an excess quantity of alcohol, resulting in large amounts of equipment and energy cost.  Batch reactive distillation has also been used for making esters but remains costly.  Reactive distillation has emerged as a new technology for economical production of or organic acid esters, and has seen limited success with esters of acetic acid.  Further development to expand the utility of reactive distillation is needed.


Description of Technology


This invention represents a new method for making organic acid esters.  The method uses reactive distillation, a technique in which a compound is formed by chemical reaction and purified to its final state within a single piece of equipment.  The technology allows organic acid esters to be produced at lower cost, with less waste production, and in a less complicated manner than prior technologies.  Organic acid esters have use as solvents, as intermediate chemicals, and in consumer products.  This technology can convert biomass-based organic acids, produced by fermentation, to their alkyl esters.


Key Benefits

  • Continuous process,
  • Inexpensive
  • Minimized waste production 



  • Economical production of
  • Organic ester solvents
  • Intermediate chemicals
  • End user products


Patent Status


US Patent No US 7,652,167 B2




Navinchandra Asthana, Carl Lira, Dennis Miller, Aspi Kolah


Tech ID




Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University