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Nitration Process

A. Common Features of Nitration:

1. Nitration reaction has huge industrial applications for manufacturing dyestuffs,

pharmaceuticals, explosives, amines etc. Also nitration products are used as
2. Different nitrating agents are Mixture of nitric acid with acetic acid/sulfuric
acid/phosphoric acid/acetic anhydride/chloroform.
a. Mixture of HNO3 and H2SO4 is called as mixed acid and it is used as one of
the main nitrating agent.
3. Preparation of mixed acid is highly exothermic reaction.
4. Most nitration reactions are heterogeneous in nature.
5. Nitration reactions are highly exothermic (ΔHr ≈ 35 kcal / mol).
6. Reaction temperature (T) is very important for yield and quality of product.
7. Nitro compounds are prone to uncontrolled decomposition at high temperature
leading to explosion.
8. Generally, water is by-product of nitration reaction.

B. Preliminary Process System (PPS) for manufacture of Nitro-benzene

from Benzene and Mixed acid:

Use following guidelines/hints/description to develop PPS:

1. Show 2 day tanks (DT) one for H2SO4 (DT1) and other for HNO3 (DT2). (Day tanks
are temporary storage tanks for material)
2. These 2 acids will mix together in Mixing tank (A). So show one tank for Mixed
3. Show one DT for Benzene (DT3).
4. Show the reactor (C). Mixed acid from (A) and Benzene from (DT3) will go to
reactor (C) and react there.
5. From reactor (C), reaction mixture will go to Separator (D), where two phases’
i.e. organic phase and spent acid phase will get separated.
6. Spent acid stream from separator (D) will be sent to spent acid intermediate
storage tank (IST) (G) and organic phase will be sent to series of extractors, (E1),
(E2) and (E3) for further processing.
7. We will use one extractor cum reactor (B), where part of benzene from (DT3)
and part of spent acid from (G) will be contacted in order to extract traces of
unconverted benzene and traces of product (if any) from spent acid. After
contact between these two streams, benzene stream will be passed to reactor
(C) and spent acid stream will be passed to storage tank or part of it can be
diverted to reactor (C).

Compiled By Prof. Prasad Parulekar

8. Organic phase from (D) is passed to 1st extractor (E1), where water wash will be
provided to product stream. For water wash, water is passed from water day
tank (W) arranged at top of (E1). The bottom stream from (E1) is mainly aqueous
stream containing impurities, so this stream is sent to effluent Treatment Plant
(ETP). Washed product stream from (E1) will be passed to 2nd extractor (E2).
9. In 2nd extractor, Alkali wash (Na2CO3 / NaOH) will be provided to product stream
from (E1). For this alkali solution is passed to (E2) from alkali solution tank (AST),
arranged at top of 2nd extractor. Bottom stream from (E2) will be again aqueous
in nature but will not be containing much impurities, so it can be passed to water
day tank (W) instead passing it to ETP. Organic phase (product stream) from (E2)
will be then passed to 3rd and final extractor (E3).
10. In (E3), again water wash will be provided to product stream from (E2) in order
to remove all other minute impurities if any and to remove traces of alkali. For
this water is again supplied from (W). Bottom stream from (E3) will be mostly
aqueous in nature; hence can be recycled back to (W). Organic layer i.e. product
stream from (E3) will be taken out which will mainly contain the product, Nitro-
benzene along with few amount of di- and tri- nitro benzene. So this product
stream can be sent to further separation to separate pure nitro-benzene.

** While drawing the PPS, show all equipments / tanks by rectangular or square box as
** Below PPS, make a legend showing list of equipments in PPS, for e.g. DT1 – day tank
for H2SO4, C – Reactor, etc.


Compiled By Prof. Prasad Parulekar