Design and Control of the Glycerol Tertiary Butyl Ethers Process for the Utilization of a Renewable Resource

In this paper, the design and control of an improved process for the manufacture of a fuel additive (glycerol tertiary butyl ethers, GTBE) from glycerol and isobutylene is developed. The improved process redirects one recycle stream, uses a stripping column instead of a flash tank to recover isobutylene, and uses a rectifying column instead of a distillation column to purify the product. Economic analysis shows that the improved process has a 22% lower total annual cost (TAC) than the best known process published in the literature. Significant increases in the selectivity of the overall process from 84.7% to 99.3% can also be realized by comparing the optimized improved design versus the original design. Dynamic simulations were also conducted and indicated that stringent product specification can be met with a simple decentralized feedback control structure despite impurities in the feed streams and also changes in the throughput.