Reactor System for Toluene Nitration

Period of Performance: 03/10/2003 - 03/10/2005


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

TDA Research, Inc.
12345 W. 52nd Ave. Array
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Principal Investigator


The nitration of aromatic hydrocarbons is used to generate a wide variety of chemical intermediates. The nitration of toluene produces the three isomers, ortho-, meta-, and para- mononitrotoluene. Meta-mononitrotoluene is the source of Red Water pollution during TNT production. Research into the production of mononitrotoluene (MNT) is focused on producing the para and the ortho isomers, without the formation of the meta-isomer. The Army has developed a solid-acid catalyzed method for the nitration of toluene that produces high yields of para-mononitrotoluene. In Phase II, TDA will scale up, design, build and demonstrate a continuous bench scale mononitrotoluene production process. We will perform parametric testing with the bench scale apparatus and optimize the process variables. We will then perform a preliminary pilot plant design and an economic analysis of the process. Our commercial partner is one of the leading producers of aromatic nitration products, producing 1.5 billion pounds annually worth over $0.5 billion/year. The successful development of this new process will have a significant commercial impact on the chemical industry as evidenced by the revenue streams for toluene nitration compounds.