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The goal of this research was to couple industrial beverage distillation with a chemical reaction to create a flavored spirit without adding anything after the final distillation. Ethanol reacted with butyric acid in the final distillation over Amberlyst® 15 to create ethyl butyrate, which gave the spirit a fruity smell comparable to Juicy Fruit® gum.
Reactive distillation combines the two unit operations of a chemical reaction and a distillation into one. This technique is useful for reactions that need a special condition that can be achieved through distillation. For example, it could be that the equilibrium of the reaction over a catalyst strongly favors the reactants, and the product is more volatile than either reactant. A column could be packed with the catalyst and ran such that the reactants vaporize up to the catalytic section, react, and the product boils off as the distillate, thus removing the product and driving the reaction in the favorable direction.
Amberlyst 15: Polymer Supported sulphonic acid - https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2012/480989/fig4/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollowAfter the low wines are distilled, the ethyl butyrate needs to be created over a catalyst. Amberlyst®
15 has been chosen for this system as it is an industry standard for esterification.
Amberlyst® 15 wet was obtained from MilliporeSigma®. This catalyst has a styrene-divinylbenzene matix with strong acidic sulfonic groups. It is a suitable replacement for the standard liquid sulfuric acid used in esterification. It can be used multiple times and cannot contaminate the distilled spirit with a strong acid.
The catalyst was supported in the pot and column in a mesh pouch. If the catalyst is used in the pot without containment, the system "pops" because there are many smooth beads on the bottom of the pot next to the heating element.
A provisional patent application has been filed for this process.