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With ever increasing concerns on environmental pollution, dependency on

conventional fuel resources, future oil supplies and energy security , the global
community is trying to find some non petroleum based alternative fuels. The
driving force for developing alternative fuels is no longer solely to reduce oil
dependence on select oil exporting companies. Noxious exhaust emissions
generated by combustion of fossil fuels as well as increased levels of carbon
dioxide, a major contributor towards global warming, have necessitated the
need to develop alternative fuels that address clean-burning as an important
criteria. Dither methyl ether has been identified as a multi-source and a multi-
purpose fuel , and therefore, I have decided to work on the synthesis of
dimethyl ether.

Slide 4
Now what are the sources of dme?
DME can be readily manufactured from natural gas reforming and gasification
of coal, renewable sources such as wood and biomass. From natural gas, , dme
can be manufactured either by direct method or indirect method which we will
be discussing later

Slide 5
1) Transportation fuel : DME is an excellent and very efficient alternative fuel
for use in a diesel engine, with almost smoke-free combustion. This is because
- low auto-ignition temperature
- almost instantaneous vapourization when injected into the cylinder
- high oxygen content (around 35% by mass)
- absence of CC bonds in the molecular structure
2 ) Domestic.household fuel : In Asian countries like India, China and Japan,
the demand for LPG is ever increasing, therefore, dimethyl ether can be used
as a substitute for liquefied petroleum gas as household fuel for heating and
cooking purposes. Due to this reason DME is also known as Synthetic LPG.
Also, DME is a liquefied gas with handling characteristics similar to those of
liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). It is a clean fuel and the total investment cost
would be small because existing LPG infrastructures could be used with minor
or no modifications. Dimethyl ether flame is a visible blue flame similar to that
of natural gas, and it can be used in an LPG cooking stove without producing
any aldehydes. Its lower explosion limit is higher than that of propane,
indicating higher safely than propane in case of leakage.

3) Power generation : Dimethyl ether has similar emission properties
comparable to natural gas, therefore, utilizing DME for power generation
reduces COx, SOx and NOx emissions. DME can be used in conventional gas
turbines without modifications to the turbine or the combustors.
4) Fuel cell : Fuel cells can be powered by dimethyl ether. DME is typically not
oxidized at the cathode of the fuel cell which minimizes the unwanted effects
of fuel crossover, leading to improved fuel cell efficiencies when compared to
direct methanol fuel cells, especially at low to medium current densities. DME
molecules do not have a carbon-carbon double bond, enabling nearly
complete oxidation in low temperature PEM fuel cells.
5) Chemical feedstock : Dimethyl ether is the main building block for the
preparation of many important chemicals, including methyl sulphate. Dimethyl
sulphate is an important solvent and used as an electrolyte in high-energy-
density batteries. Lower olefins like ethylene and propylene and other
downstream products, such as gasoline and lower range boiling hydrocarbons,
are produced from syngas using DME as an intermediate. A variety of specialty
industrial chemicals such as oxygenates, acetaldehyde, acetic acid, ethylene
glycol precursor like 1,2-dimethoxyethane, etc. can be formed using DME as a
6) Propellant in aerosol : Dimethyl ether has been increasingly used as a
propellant in aerosol formulations to replace chlorofluorocarbons, which are
responsible for the ozone layer hole. Dimethyl ether is non-toxic and easily
degrades in the troposphere. Several aerosol-based household products
include colognes, hair sprays and dyes, personal care mousses, antiperspirants,
and room air fresheners.

DME can be manufactured in two ways : one is the indirect route which uses
produced methanol to promote its dehydration where methanol is usually
formed by steam reforming of methane and then followed by methanol
dehydration to DME and the other way i.e. the direct synthesis method which
is referred to as the more efficient one produces DME in a single stage using bi-
functional catalysts.

The temperature of the whole process need to be controlled properly in order
to avoid runway as the complete STD process is highly exothermic.
The direct synthesis process allows for a higher CO conversion as compared to
the indirect technology and also has a simple reactor design that results in
much lower dimethyl ether production costs [30]. But the separation process
for high purity DME is relatively more complex due to the presence of
unreacted syngas and produced carbon dioxide in the one-step synthesis
process. Also, DME manufacture from syngas is not much suitable for
commercialized purposes as water gas shift reaction consumes stoichiometric
amount of carbon monoxide to form carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

DME synthesis through a thermally coupled heat exchanger reactor
(1) (2011)
In this type of reactors, an exothermic reaction is considered as the heat
producing source to drive the endothermic reaction. In this novel coupled
reactor, the first side is the exothermic side where DME synthesis takes place
on the hybrid catalyst. The second side is an endothermic side which is used as
a coolant medium, instead of boiling water, where hydrogenation of
cyclohexane to benzene takes place on Pt/Al2O3 catalyst. Heat is transferred
continuously from the exothermic side to the endothermic one and drive the
endothermic reaction properly in order that hydrogen production occurs.
MATLAB software is used to solve the ordinary differential equations in axial
direction. The related set of ODEs are converted to nonlinear algebraic
equations by using backward finite difference method. The reactor length is
divided to 100 separate sections and nonlinear algebraic equations are solved
for both reactor sides in each section, simultaneously.
In this scheme, (exothermic side)dme mole fraction is enhanced by about 0.8
% which leads to a higher production rate of 600 ton/year. And (at endo side)
cyclohexane conversion reaches to 64% with a total production rate of 860

Modeling, simulation and control of dimethyl ether
synthesis in an industrial fixed-bed reactor (2011) (5)

In this study, the industrial reactor of DME synthesis with the accompanying
feed preheater has been simulated and controlled in dynamic conditions. The
proposed model, consisting of a set of algebraic and partial differential
equations, is based on a heterogeneous one-dimensional unsteady state
formulation. To verify the proposed model, the simulation results have been
compared to available data from an industrial reactor at steady state
conditions. A good agreement has been found between the simulation and
plant data.
DME production loop consists of an adiabatic packed bed reactor as well as a
shell and tube heat exchanger as depicted in Fig. 1. The inlet feed to the
reactor is preheated in the heat exchanger through heat transfer to the outlet
products from the reactor. The reactor product is transferred to DME
purification unit, and DME is separated from water and methanol. Also, the
unreacted methanol is recycled to the reactor. The developed model of this
process includes modeling equations for both the reactor and the feed
To solve the set of nonlinear partial differential equations (PDE) obtained from
dynamic modeling, the reactor length is divided into equal discrete intervals,
and by using finite difference method the PDEs are converted into a set of
ordinary differential equations (ODE) in time domain. The set of equations are
solved by 4th order RungeKutta [28].
Results : The comparison of the simulation results and the industrial data
show that the proposed model can predict the reactor outlet temperature and
concentrations with relative errors less than 2%.

The proposed reactor conguration is composed of two xed bed reactors: (1)
the water-cooled reactor and (2) the gas-cooled reactor. The bifunctional
catalyst is loaded into tubes of the water cooled reactor (first reactor) and the
shell side of the gas cooled reactor (second reactor) and thus dme synthesis
occurs in these sections. The cold feed enters to tubes of the second reactor
and it is preheated by receiving heat from reacting gas which flows in the shell
side of this reactor. The preheated syngas is fed into the tubes of the first
reactor and the dme chemical reaction is initiated over the packed catalysts.
The boiling water in the shell side of the first reactor absorbs the heat of
exothermic reactions and produces water vapour. Afterwards, the outlet
reacting gas of the first reactor is entered to the shell side of the second
reactor to progress DME reaction at a lower temp. there are two flow patterns
for for cold syngas and reacting gas streams in the second reactor : co current
and countercurrent.(reacting gas stream in opp dir to the synthsis gas stream)

a new reactor configuration composed of two reactors with different
operation has been proposed to create such temperature profile in methanol
synthesis. In this industrial reactor which is called dual-type reactor,the part of
syngas conversion to methanol is performed in the first reactor at high
temperature and then, the methanol synthesis is completed in the second
reactor at a lower temperature ( why this happens : progress. At the reaction
beginning, the reaction kinetics is controlling, and the increase of temperature
results in the higher reaction rate and consequently the reaction conversion.
On the other hand, increasing temperature causes the reduction of equilibrium
conversion of the reaction. So in the reactors involving exothermic reversible
reactions, the temperature profile should decline as the reactions proceed.
Hence, applying the high temperature profile at the beginning of one-step
DME synthesis for a higher reaction rate, and then reducing the temperature
gradually for increasing the equilibrium conversion is an appropriate method
for more DME production)
the ordinary differential equations (ODEs) are converted to non-linear
algebraic equations by backward finite difference method and then the
GausseNewton method in MATLAB programming environment is used to
solve these non-linear algebraic equations.

A Three Dimensional Dynamic CFD Simulation for the Direct
DME Production in a Fixed Bed Reactor (2013) (7)

In this work, synthesis gas to dme process was developed for direct synthesis
of DME fromsyn gas in a single reactor over the bifunctional catalyst.
3D geometry with a diameter of 7 m and a height of 50 m was created in this
simulation, an irregular mesh size selected by using the commercial grid-
generation tool of the GAMBIT software.
A three dimensional (3D) heterogeneous dynamic model used to simulate the
reactor. The assumptions considered in the simulation are: catalyst
deactivation was not considered, steady state was applicable, simulations were
conducted using ideal gas law for the gas phase, pressure based module was
chosen for the solver, the k- model for turbulence was applied.

Results: optimum temp. : at which the production of DME is highest. further
temperature enhancements above 270C due to the exothermic nature of the
reactions, caused more methanol and carbon monoxide to be removed from
the reactor as unreacted hence; production of the
DME was reduced. Under this condition, the optimum height of the reactor
needed increased to 48 m.

( not to be told unless asked : Moreover, a second order discretization scheme
(QUICK: Quadrative Upwind Interpolation for Convective Kinematics) was
chosen for the turbulent dissipation rate and void fraction equations in order
to limit their numerical dispersion. The SIMPLE (Semi-Implicit Method for
Pressure Linked Equations) pressure velocity coupling scheme was also used.)

In this study, Famimi et al developed a mathematical model for DME
synthesis reaction in a novel 2-stage spherical reactors setup. Methanol feed
enters top of the rst reactor and ows axially through the sphere. Then the
reactor product is transferred to distillation unit and pure DME is achieved.
After that, the unreacted methanol is passed through a heat exchanger to
reach to a desired temperature and is then entered through the top of the
second reactor as the inlet feed.
Heat exchanger is added between these two reactors in order to cool the
unreacted methanol from the rst reactor. The catalyst is located between two
pierced screens in the upper and lower parts of the reactor. These pierced
screens act as the mechanical supports which lead to a more uniform feed
In order to maximize DME mole fraction in the outlet of the reactors, the
catalyst distributions and the inlet temperatures of each reactor are optimized
using differential evolution (DE) method. Then the optimization results are
compared with the conventional reactor (CR) and a good agreement is
observed between the plant data and and the modelling results of
conventional reactor. An increase of 16.3 % is observed compared to the
conventional reactor.

Advantages (if anyone asks)
The advantages of this conguration in comparison with tubular packed bed
reactors are signicantly lower pressure drop, using smaller catalytic pellets
with higher effectiveness factor owing to the reduction of pressure drop in this
conguration, lower manufacturing costs owing to small wall thickness
(consequently the required surface decreases which reduces effectively the
costs of investment and maintenance during