Formic acid production by ethyl or methyl formate hydrolysis was improved using 1-butylimidazole as a complexing agent. The chemical process involved both hydrolysis and complexation steps. The complexation equilibria were investigated by deriving theoretical equations using the equilibrium constant of the hydrolysis step, the apparent formation constant of the complexation process and the initial concentration of the complexing agent. The treatment of the experimental results within the experimental domain indicated that an equimolar amount of the acid and the base did not lead to the complex formation. Experimental observation suggested that the derived equation could be simplified by assuming that the stoichiometric coefficient of the complexing agent was 0.5. The apparent reaction enthalpy obtained from this equation was compared to the experimental one using a Tian-Calvet calorimeter and a good agreement was found between them. FTIR spectroscopy was used to confirm the existence of the complex between formic acid and 1-butylimidazole.
- Chemical Engineering