2007 Volume 80 Issue 6 Pages 1075-1090
Ethanolamines are produced on an industrial scale exclusively by the reaction of ethylene oxide with an aqueous solution of ammonia. The reaction is a typical consecutive reaction with three steps; therefore, it is difficult to produce 2,2′-iminodiethanol (the second product of the reaction) with high selectivity by conventional means. We developed a catalytic 2,2′-iminodiethanol selective production process using a pentasil-type zeolite catalyst modified with rare earth elements. This highly active catalyst was able to recognize the difference at molecular level between 2,2′-iminodiethanol and 2,2′,2″-nitrilotriethanol; 2,2′,2″-nitrilotriethanol was not formed in its micropore. We also succeeded in producing a binderless molded zeolite catalyst that does not form problematic impurities and that has a shape suitable for a fixed-bed reactor. The problem of activity deterioration was overcome by developing a regeneration process using high-temperature and high-density ammonia gas as a rinse medium.
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