Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering


Tomas B. Co


Gerard T. Caneba


Polycarbonate (PC) is an important engineering thermoplastic that is currently produced in large industrial scale using bisphenol A and monomers such as phosgene. Since phosgene is highly toxic, a non-phosgene approach using diphenyl carbonate (DPC) as an alternative monomer, as developed by Asahi Corporation of Japan, is a significantly more environmentally friendly alternative. Other advantages include the use of CO2 instead of CO as raw material and the elimination of major waste water production. However, for the production of DPC to be economically viable, reactive-distillation units are needed to obtain the necessary yields by shifting the reaction-equilibrium to the desired products and separating the products at the point where the equilibrium reaction occurs. In the field of chemical reaction engineering, there are many reactions that are suffering from the low equilibrium constant. The main goal of this research is to determine the optimal process needed to shift the reactions by using appropriate control strategies of the reactive distillation system. An extensive dynamic mathematical model has been developed to help us investigate different control and processing strategies of the reactive distillation units to increase the production of DPC. The high-fidelity dynamic models include extensive thermodynamic and reaction-kinetics models while incorporating the necessary mass and energy balance of the various stages of the reactive distillation units. The study presented in this document shows the possibility of producing DPC via one reactive distillation instead of the conventional two-column, with a production rate of 16.75 tons/h corresponding to start reactants materials of 74.69 tons/h of Phenol and 35.75 tons/h of Dimethyl Carbonate. This represents a threefold increase over the projected production rate given in the literature based on a two-column configuration. In addition, the purity of the DPC produced could reach levels as high as 99.5% with the effective use of controls. These studies are based on simulation done using high-fidelity dynamic models.