Near-infrared spectroscopy was used to control an esterification reaction between glycerine and middle- or long-chain fatty acids performed in a laboratory-scale reactor. The process involves the initial formation of monoglycerides, which is followed by that of di- and triglycerides as well as transesterification. Establishing the end point of the process is critical with a view to ensuring that the end product will have the composition required for its intended use. PLS calibration was applied to industrial and laboratory-scale batch samples, and laboratory samples were additionally used to extend calibration ranges and avoid correlation between the concentration of the batch samples. In this way, PLS calibration models for glycerine, fatty acids, water, and mono-, di- and triglycerides, were constructed. The proposed method allows the reaction to be monitored in real time, thereby avoiding long analysis times, excessive reagent consumption and the obtainment of out-of-specification products. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- Control esterification process
- Multivariate calibration