Ionic liquid synthesis in a microstructured reactor for process intensification
Ionic liquids (IL) are the focus of growing interest over the last few years due to their low vapour pressure being beneficial for replacing common organic solvents with high vapour pressure. IL synthesised via alkylation are produced in batch or semi-batch stirred tank reactors. The reaction is highly exothermic and the kinetics was shown to be fast. The heat management during the reactor operation is a crucial point leading to high quality IL product and avoiding thermal runaway. This study reports the use of a microstructured reactor (MSR) system for the production of ethylmethylimidazole ethylsulfate by a solvent-free alkylation reaction. A combination of MSR and two tubular capillary reactors operating at two different cooling temperatures has been proposed. The save and stable operation of this reactor system is proven experimentally rendering the IL of high quality. The specific reactor performance was about 4 kgm−3 s−1 being ca. 3 orders of magnitude higher as compared to more traditional reactors.