BACKGROUND: In recent years, exploitation of renewable resources has gained considerable attention. In this respect, polyols derived from the hydrogenation of sugar molecules are versatile molecules with a variety of uses, such as low-caloric sweeteners. The hydrogenation of D-maltose, D-galactose, L-rhamnose and L-arabinose was carried out on a finely dispersed Ru/activated carbon catalyst with the objective of studying the kinetics of the production of the corresponding polyols. The reactions were carried out in a stirred tank reactor at temperatures ranging from 90 to 130 °C and hydrogen pressures from 40 to 60 bar.
RESULTS: Sugar conversions up to 100% were achieved. Some by-product formation affecting the quality of the selectivity was also observed at elevated operating conditions. The catalyst was characterized by scanning electron microcopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) and nitrogen physisorption. Kinetic models based on the Langmuir Hinshelwood assumptions were proposed for the reactions and a nonlinear regression was performed to obtain the numerical values of the kinetic parameters.
CONCLUSIONS: The kinetic models predicted well the sugar hydrogenation process and the kinetic parameters were established. The model can be used to predict the behaviour of batchwise operating slurry reactors. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry