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To: Design Groups
From: Project Managers
Date: 08/07/2017
Re: Design Project

Enclosed is the letter that I received from Ester Chemicals Corporation (ECC) regarding
their plans to build a new plant for the production of Methyl Acetate (MeOAc). First, I
would like you to conduct a preliminary study on the production of methyl acetate, and
report to me by a 4-page written report by August 10, 2017. Your report should
include a brief description and assessment of existing technologies/processes for
methyl acetate production, possible flow sheets for the proposed process, along with
the economic potential of the project based on the input/output information. Also pay
attention to the points of investigation suggested in the attached memorandum from
ECC. Since the production site is expected to be outside the U.S., we would like you to
investigate the economic and environmental impact of this product, as well as any
existing regulations that govern its production and transportation. Organize your
report to present all information in a neat, concise manner and use Appendices when
appropriate. Make sure to state and justify any assumptions that you make in the
course of your analysis. In one appendix, discuss briefly your information search
strategy, the sources consulted and list all appropriate references used. Also discuss the
reliability of your sources.

Ester Chemicals Corporation (ECC)

2017 Best Hope Road

Last Resort, Florida


August 7, 2017

Project Manager,
Engineering Design Group
Davis, California

Ester Chemicals is evaluating opportunities for the manufacture of methyl acetate. Methyl
acetate is used as a chemical intermediate for acetic anhydride, and solvent for resins,
fragrances, and cosmetics. The Business Development Group would like to expand our line of
ester products and projects that the market can support a 100 million lb methyl acetate/year
facility. Methyl acetate is produced by reaction of acetic acid with methanol.

To assess the commercial viability of this project we need your group to prepare a conceptual
design package and economic evaluation for the production of methyl acetate. For this study,
use a methyl acetate price of $0.55/lb, a methanol price of $0.06/lb and acetic acid price of
$0.22/lb. We require a minimum methyl acetate purity of 99 wt%. The methyl acetate product
will be transported as a liquid.

In anticipation of the methyl acetate project, our Just-in-Time Research Laboratory has been
conducting small-scale experiments. Results thus far have been encouraging with high
selectivity to methyl acetate. Specific details of R&Ds lab results will be provided soon. In the
mean-time, you could be thinking about reactor configurations, separation schemes, and safety
issues. The attachment provides some background on the chemistry of methyl acetate synthesis.

My staff will assist you in developing project and process premises and you will receive further
memos with additional details. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me
or my staff.

Methil Ester
Acetate Chemicals

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Methyl acetate can be synthesized by esterifying a carboxylic acid (acetic acid) with an alcohol
(methanol) in the presence of a mineral acid catalyst such as sulfuric acid:


The esterification reaction is highly selective, although small amounts of methyl propionate are
also produced. Typical reaction conditions include temperatures in the 150-275 F range and
enough pressure to keep the reaction mixture all in the liquid phase.

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