Three step synthesis of benzylacetone and 4-(4-methoxyphenyl)butan-2-one in flow using micropacked bed reactors

Conor Waldron, Enhong Cao, Stefano Cattaneo, Gemma L. Brett, Peter J. Miedziak, Gaowei Wu, Meenakshisundaram Sankar, Graham J. Hutchings, Asterios Gavriilidis*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The synthesis of benzylacetone from benzyl alcohol and of 4-(4-methoxyphenyl)butan-2-one from 4-methoxybenzyl alcohol, which were previously performed in a batch cascade, were successfully performed in a telescoped flow system consisting of three micropacked bed reactors and a tube-in-tube membrane to remove oxygen. The system consisted of approximately 10 mg of 1 wt% AuPd/TiO2 catalyst for oxidation, 150–250 mg of anatase TiO2 for C–C coupling and 10 mg of 1 wt% Pt/TiO2 for reduction, operating at 115 °C, 130 °C and 120 °C respectively. Oxygen and hydrogen flowrates were 2 and 1.5 NmL/min and alcohol solution inlet flowrates were 10–80 µL/min, while the system operated at a back pressure of 5 barg. This system achieved significantly increased yields of benzylacetone compared to the batch cascade (56% compared to 8%) and slightly increased yields of 4-(4-methoxyphenyl)butan-2-one (48% compared to 41% when using the same catalyst supports). The major advantage of the telescoped flow system was the ability to separate the three reactions, so that each reaction could have its own catalyst and operating conditions, which led to significant process intensification.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Early online date18 Sept 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cascade synthesis
  • Catalytic microreactor
  • Coupling
  • Hydrogenation
  • Oxidation
  • Telescoped synthesis


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