Manufacturing Process of Hydrogen Peroxide
15 September 2021
The anthraquinone method is used to produce hydrogen peroxide. This is a cyclic process in which the alkyl anthraquinone is reused. The Synthesis Loop is made up of phases such as hydrogenation, filtering, oxidation, and extraction. A variety of auxiliary processes are also at work.
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Two solvents, one nonpolar and one polar are used to dissolve an alkyl anthraquinone. The anthraquinone and solvents are referred to collectively as the working solution. This working solution has been reused.
In a slurry-type hydrogenator using alumina loaded with a small amount of palladium catalyst, the working solution including the dissolved anthraquinone is hydrogenated using hydrogen gas. The temperature is kept at about 45 °C, and the reactor is stirred to ensure that the catalyst is well mixed with the working solution and hydrogen. During hydrogenation, the alkyl anthraquinone is transformed to both alkylanthrahydroquinone and tetrahydroalkyl-anthrahydroquinone, with the tetra-form of the quinone being favoured since it is more easily hydrogenated.
To avoid over-hydrogenation of the anthraquinone rings, the hydrogenation stage is carefully managed. For optimal catalyst and activity, basicity and moisture content is critical.
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The working solution, which now contains hydrogenated anthraquinone, is subsequently filtered to eliminate any remaining catalyst traces. If the catalyst is not removed, the hydrogen peroxide will break down in later stages, lowering yields and posing significant risks.
Bypassing air through the working solution, it is oxidised. In an organic phase, tetrahydroalkylanthrahydroquinone is oxidised, yielding hydrogen peroxide. Because no catalyst is employed, this phase is commonly referred to as auto-oxidation.
Because the hydrogen peroxide is present in an organic phase and the product is needed in an aqueous phase, demineralised water is supplied to the top of a 35-metre-high liquid-liquid extraction column. While the working solution is pumped up the column, water flows down the column through perforated trays. The extractor's design and operation ensure that as much water as possible comes into touch with the working solution.
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The water that reaches the bottom of the extractor contains 25-35 per cent w/w crude hydrogen peroxide, but the working solution that exits the top of the extractor is hydrogen peroxide-free and is pumped back to the hydrogenator. The original alklyanthraquinone and tetrahydroalkylanthraquinone are now present in this functioning solution.
Following that, the crude hydrogen peroxide is refined and vacuum distilled to concentrations of up to 70% w/w. This concentrated product is stabilised against decomposition by the addition of proprietary stabilisers before being piped to product storage tanks for final testing.