Separation of Anisole and Valuable Byproducts from Liquid Reaction Mixtures by Solvent Extraction and Multicomponent Distillation


Anisole (methoxybenzene) is a widely used organic intermediate that can be synthesized via vapor-phase alkylation of phenol by methanol in the presence of a commercial NaX zeolite as a catalyst (SiO2:Al2O3 ratio of 2.6:3). The indigenously synthesized anisole is then separated from the multicomponent liquid reaction mixture, consisting of o-cresol, p-cresol and p-xylen, along with unreacted methanol and phenol. The separated anisole has substantial demand for applications in the chemical, pharmaceutical, plastics and pesticides industries. Separation of individual components from the reaction mixture requires identification of techniques that could be scaled up. Distillation is one of the most dependable techniques for the separation of multicomponent liquid mixtures. The novelty of the present study is the synthesis and separation of anisole along with individual components of methanol, phenol and o-cresol from its reaction mixture using a single distillation column under atmospheric and vacuum conditions, respectively. Through this process, the purity of the resulting methanol, anisole and phenol were found to be 99.99, 99.80 and 98.29% by simple distillation, whereas 91.0% pure o-cresol was separated by vacuum distillation due to its high boiling point. The experimental results were used to calculate the material, individual component and energy balances, whereas the PRO/II™ process simulation was performed to scale-up the process. On the other hand, anisole recovery from a synthetic multicomponent liquid mixture was also successfully conducted using solvent extraction. The overall observations found the integration of solvent extraction with distillation to be an effective, economical and dependable solution for the isolation of anisole and other important by-products.

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The first author wishes to acknowledge CSIR-IICT-AcSIR for providing funding and the opportunity to carry out PhD research. We thank the Director, CSIR-IICT, for supporting this research work of communication no. IICT/Pubs./2020/059.


This funding was supported by CSIR Grant No. [31/014(2764)/2018-EMR-1].

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Correspondence to Sundergopal Sridhar.

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Vani, B., Pabba, M., Kalyani, S. et al. Separation of Anisole and Valuable Byproducts from Liquid Reaction Mixtures by Solvent Extraction and Multicomponent Distillation. J Solution Chem 50, 160–177 (2021).

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  • Vapor-phase alkylation
  • Anisole
  • Multi-component liquid mixtures
  • Distillation
  • Material and energy balance
  • Solvent extraction