Reactive distillation (RD) is an efficient process intensification technique that integrates catalytic chemical reaction and distillation in a single apparatus. The process is also known as catalytic distillation when a solid catalyst is used. RD technology has many key advantages such as reduced capital investment and significant energy savings, as it can surpass equilibrium limitations, simplify complex processes, increase product selectivity and improve the separation efficiency. But RD is also constrained by thermodynamic requirements (related to volatility differences and heat of reaction), overlapping of the reaction and distillation operating conditions, and the availability of catalysts that are active, selective and with sufficient longevity.
This paper is the first to provide insights into novel reactive distillation technologies that combine RD principles with other intensified distillation technologies – e.g. dividing-wall columns, cyclic distillation, HiGee distillation, and heat integrated distillation column – potentially leading to new processes and applications.