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Reactor Design

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Reactor Design
Prediction of reactor performance, product yields etc.
See earlier lecture

Detailed discussion of reaction kinetics, catalysis,


deactivation, mass transfer, etc.
See reactors classes and textbooks

Focus of this lecture is on how real reactors are


designed and sized in industry
Special case of biological reactors is treated in next
lecture

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Reactor Sizing & Costing


Estimate required volume
From residence time for non-catalytic reactors
From catalyst space velocity for packed bed catalytic reactors
Space velocity = lbs/h per lb catalyst
Hence use catalyst average bed density to estimate catalyst bed volume

From hydraulics & residence time for fluidized and slurry reactors
Make allowance for head space, internals, etc.

Decide pressure vessel size and shape


See pressure vessel design lecture

Cost reactor shell as a pressure vessel


Add extra costs for mixers, internals, controls, etc.
2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
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Chemical Engineering Design

Complications of Real Reactor Design

How do we
handle multiple
phases?
How do we get
good mixing
& segregation?

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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How do we
introduce
catalyst?

What gives
lowest cost?

How do we
add or remove
heat?
How tight
does RTD have
to be?

Chemical Engineering Design

Real Reactor Design


Very often, the design of real reactors is a lot more
complicated than just estimating the reactor volume
Much of the cost comes from reactor internals
Mixers, agitators, baffles
Heat transfer (jackets, coils or external loops)
Catalyst handling

The mixing and heat transfer performance of real


reactors can be very difficult to model and understand,
and can have significant effects on process yields and
product purity
2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
Towler & Sinnott Chemical Engineering Design only. Do not copy

Chemical Engineering Design

Reactor Design
Basics of Reactor Design
Mixing in Industrial Reactors
Heat Transfer in Industrial Reactors
Vapor-Liquid Reactors
Reactors for Liquid Catalysis
Reactors for Solid Catalysis

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Ideal Reactors

WMR or CSTR

Plug Flow Reactor

Perfect mixing

No axial mixing

Product and entire vessel contents


are at uniform temperature,
concentration

Sharp residence time distribution

Material flowing through the


reactor experiences a profile of
concentrations and temperatures

Material sees a distribution of


residence times

Idealized reactor performance is seldom attained in


practice, but is useful as a first approximation
2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
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Chemical Engineering Design

Reactor Performance
Plug flow reactor:
dV
G

G = molar flow rate


V = volume
X = conversion
R = reaction rate per unit volume

Balance across element of reactor:


-G dX = R dV
Integrated form depends on rate expression R(X)

Well mixed reactor:


G
V

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Balance across reactor:


G (Xin Xout) = R V
R is evaluated at outlet conditions

Chemical Engineering Design

Reaction Kinetics Complications


Reactions are seldom simple first or second order
Most catalytic reactions can be fitted with LangmuirHinshelwood expressions
Inhibition terms are often significant

Mass transfer, mixing & equilibrium often limit the overall


rate
Catalyst deactivation is often significant
Simple first order model is usually adequate for predicting
conversion, but not for predicting byproduct yields or
understanding catalyst behavior
2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
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Chemical Engineering Design

Mass Transfer
Mass transfer processes often reduce the overall rate of
reaction to a slower rate than intrinsic kinetics
Mass transfer limitations can occur:
Between phases (V/L, L/L, L/S, V/S, etc.)
Inside catalyst pores

Inter-phase transport is strongly influenced by interfacial


area, i.e., particle, droplet or bubble size (hence agitation
rate)
See reaction engineering textbooks for numerous
examples with neat analytical solutions

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

First Order Approximation


Very often we can write:
R = keff CA

CA is the concentration of one of the reagents (the limiting


reagent)
keff is effective first order rate constant
Includes mass transfer resistances
Includes concentrations of reagents that are present in excess and
so roughly constant

For an equilibrium reaction, expression is:


R = keff (CA CA*)
2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
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CA* = equilibrium concentration


Chemical Engineering Design

Reactor Heat Balance


Reactor design must account for enthalpy difference between
feed and products, which can come from:
Heat of reaction:

dH = G.(Xout Xin).Hrxn

Heat of reaction must be calculated at reaction temperature and pressure

Sensible heat changes:

dH = m.Cp.dT

Latent heat due to phase changes:

dH = m.HL

In industrial practice, all of these are usually estimated


using process simulation software:
dHreactor = Hproducts - Hfeeds

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Reactor Design
Basics of Reactor Design
Mixing in Industrial Reactors
Heat Transfer in Industrial Reactors
Vapor-Liquid Reactors
Reactors for Liquid Catalysis
Reactors for Solid Catalysis

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Mixing in Industrial Reactors


Tubular Reactors

Tubular reactors are almost always


designed to be in turbulent flow
A static mixer is usually placed
immediately downstream of any
feed point to ensure reactor
contents are mixed quickly
Static mixer usually consists of
baffles to induce turbulence

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Source: Komax Inc.


www.Komax.com

Chemical Engineering Design

Mixing in Industrial Reactors


Stirred Reactors
Agitator consists of impeller
mounted on shaft driven by motor
Motor is usually mounted above
the reactor
Reactor usually contains baffles or
other internals to induce turbulence
and prevent contents from swirling
2007 Chemineer Inc.
Used with permission.
www.Chemineer.com
2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
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Chemical Engineering Design

Impeller Types

Straight Blade

Helical Ribbon

Pitched Blade

Anchor

Hydrofoil

Propeller (Turbine)

Rushton Turbine

Screw

2007 Chemineer Inc. Used with permission. www.Chemineer.com


2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
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Chemical Engineering Design

Baffles
Flow pattern

If the tank has no baffles then


the liquid will swirl and
develop a vortex:
Liquid level

Side view

Usually four baffles are


placed around the perimeter
to break up swirl
Typically, baffles are 1/10 of
diameter and located 1/20 of
diameter from wall

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Top view
Flow pattern

Baffle

Chemical Engineering Design

Impeller Reynolds Number


Can be used to determine extent of mixing and correlate
power consumption and heat transfer to shell (jacket)
Defined as

Da N
2

Re =

Da = agitator blade diameter, m


N = agitator speed, revs/s
= density, kg/m3
= viscosity Ns/m2

Different definitions are used for agitators without blades

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Chemical Engineering Design

Power Consumption
Power consumption P (in W or Nm/s) can be made into
dimensionless power number, Np, which can be correlated against
impeller Reynolds number

Np =

N 3 Da 5

For Re > 103, power number is roughly constant and mainly a


function of impeller type
Np

10

102

103

Re

See Perrys Handbook or vendors for correlations


2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
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Chemical Engineering Design

Non-Ideal Flow and Mixing


In some cases, simple correlations may not be
adequate:
If dead zones cannot be tolerated for reasons of product purity,
safety, etc.
If reactor internals are complex
If reaction selectivity is very sensitive to mixing

In these cases, it is usually necessary to carry out a


more sophisticated analysis of mixing
Use computational fluid dynamics to model the reactor
Use physical modeling (cold flow) experiments
Use tomography methods to look at performance of real reactor

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Computational Fluid Dynamics

Calculate mass, energy and momentum balances


discretely across a 2- or 3-dimensional grid of
points as a function of time

Can include effects of heat and mass transfer,


bubbles, suspended solids

Boundary conditions on grid are set up to reflect


reactor geometry

Results are usually plotted as color coded pictures


of velocity, mass transfer coefficient, void fraction,
shear, etc., that let the designer see where the
weak points of the design may be and propose
changes to the design geometry

Commercial software such as Fluent, CFX or


FloWizard is used (see www.Ansys.com)
Source: Ansys Inc.
www.Ansys.com

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Chemical Engineering Design

Reactor Tomography
Various methods can be used for non-invasive examination of
reactor in-situ
Cat Scanning, Ultrasound, Gamma Scanning
Usually carried out by specialist contractors, & not cheap

Cat Scanning of
FCC regenerator
to validate MTO
reactor catalyst
distribution

Source: UOP

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Gamma
scanning to
validate axial
catalyst density
profile in FCC
regenerator

Chemical Engineering Design

Reactor Design
Basics of Reactor Design
Mixing in Industrial Reactors
Heat Transfer in Industrial Reactors
Vapor-Liquid Reactors
Reactors for Liquid Catalysis
Reactors for Solid Catalysis

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Non-Isothermal Liquid Phase Reactors

Low heat duties can be achieved with a jacketed vessel:


Q U A T

Intermediate duties require an internal coil

But note: coil impacts mixing, fouling and cleaning


Q = U A Lmtd
U can be estimated using correlations for shell side of S&T HX
Coil volume must be added to volume calculated from residence time

High duties require an external heat exchange circuit


2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
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Chemical Engineering Design

Estimating Heat Transfer Coefficients in


Stirred Tank Reactors
Reactor side heat transfer coefficient depends strongly on rate of
agitation, reactor internals & coil design
Very case specific
Detailed understanding requires CFD or physical modeling

First approximation for jacket for design purposes:


Nu = Re Pr0.33
Ch 19 (section 19.18) has values for different impellers:

is in range 0.36 to 1.4,


is in range 0.5 to 0.75, typically 0.67
Re is the impeller Reynolds number
Nu = hd/k, where d is reactor internal diameter

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Chemical Engineering Design

Example
A well-mixed reactor for manufacturing a specialty chemical has
diameter 2m and liquid depth 3m. The agitator is a paddle with diameter
0.2m and speed is 60 rpm. The reactor operates at 75 C, and a cooling
rate of 200 kW is required. How would you cool the reactor?

Start by assuming typical organic chemical properties


Pr ~ 0.9, k ~ 0.14 W/mK, ~ 700 kg/m3, ~ 0.6 10-3 Ns/m2

60 rpm = 1 rps, so Re = (0.22)7001/0.6 10-3 = 46700

From Ch 19, Nu = 0.36 Re0.67 Pr0.33 = 467, and h = k Nu/d = 0.14 467/2 = 33 W/m2K

Heat transfer coefficient on jacket side using cooling water ~ 800 W/m2K, so U ~ (1/800 +
1/33)-1 = 31 W/m2K

Jacket area is .d.L = 3.14 2 3 = 18.85m2, So cooling duty = 31 18.9 dT ~594dT

If cooling water is available at 45 C, then maximum delta T would be 30 C and maximum


cooling rate would be 594 45 = 26.7 kW

Jacket is not adequate and we should increase stirrer speed or agitator length or consider
a coil or external loop

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Non-Isothermal Vapor Phase Reactors


Heat transfer coefficients are usually too low to use
jackets or internal coils
External heating or cooling loops are most common
For very endothermic processes, reaction is carried out
in a fired heater tube
Reactor design is same as fired heater design
Allow extra residence time in radiant zone if necessary
See later

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Reactor Design
Basics of Reactor Design
Mixing in Industrial Reactors
Heat Transfer in Industrial Reactors
Vapor-Liquid Reactors
Reactors for Liquid Catalysis
Reactors for Solid Catalysis

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

How would you get a vapor to


react with a liquid?

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Vapor-Liquid Reactors
Goal

Maintain low
concentration of
gas component in
liquid

Types of V-L Reactor

- Sparged stirred tank reactor


- Sparged tubular reactor

Examples

- Liquid phase
oxidations using
air
- Fermenters

Contact gas and


liquid over catalyst

- Trickle bed reactor

- Catalytic
hydrogenation

- Slurry phase reactor


React a component
out of the gas
phase to high
conversion

- Multi-stage V/L contactor


(reactive absorption column)
- Venturi scrubber

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- Chemisorption
- Acid gas
scrubbing
Chemical Engineering Design

Sparged Reactors

Sparger is a pipe with holes for bubbles to flow out


For smaller bubbles, a porous pipe diffuser can be used instead
Balance between bubble break-up and coalescence is quickly
established
If small bubble size must be maintained then additional shear is needed
and an agitator is used as well
Designer must allow some disengaging space at top of reactor, or
entrainment will be excessive
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Chemical Engineering Design

Sparger as Agitator
If gas flow rate is large then gas flow can be used as primary means
of agitation
Perrys Handbook suggests the following air rates (ft3/ft2.min) for
agitating an open tank full of water at 1 atm:

Degree of agitation

Liquid depth 9ft

Liquid depth 3ft

Moderate

0.65

1.3

Complete

1.3

2.6

Violent

3.1

6.2

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Chemical Engineering Design

Lift Reactors and Loop Reactors


If sparger is used to provide
agitation then a baffle is often
added to give better liquid
circulation and ensure mixing of
feeds
These reactors can be used for
very large flowrates, where the
liquid flow is driven by the vapor
flow

Baffle

Equipment design is governed by


two phase flow hydraulics (see
earlier lecture)
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Chemical Engineering Design

Example: UOP/Paques Thiopaq Reactor

Biological desulfurization of gases with oxidative regeneration of bugs using air

Reactor at AMOC in Al Iskandriyah has six 2m diameter downcomers inside


shell

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Chemical Engineering Design

Reaction in Vapor-Liquid Contacting


Columns
Trayed or packed columns can be
used to contact vapor and liquid for
reaction
See separation columns lecture for
design details

Packing may be catalytically active,


or could be conventional inert
packing
Design is similar to design of
absorption columns, but must allow
for enhancement of absorption due
to reaction
2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
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Chemical Engineering Design

Vapor-Liquid Reaction Kinetics


Liquid
B

CA,

Vapor
CA,i

If liquid component B is present in excess then we can assume


reaction is psuedo-first order in gas component A
Rate of reaction = k2 CA CB k1CA

Start by assuming reaction in bulk is >> reaction in mass transfer film

Mass transfer flux through film = k L a C A,i C A,

= Rate of reaction in bulk = k1 C A,

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Vapor-Liquid Reaction Kinetics


Solving :

C A, =

C A ,i a k L

(k1 + a k L )

so rate of reaction (or flux) =

k1 C A,i a k L

(k1 + a k L )

= a k L C A ,i

k1
(k1 + a k L )

We can define two regimes:

k1 << akL, rate k1CA,i


Known as slow kinetic regime
Reaction rate occurs with concentration that would be predicted by phase
equilibrium
Design is insensitive to increase in area a

k1 >> akL, rate a kLCA,i


Known as slow mass transfer regime
Reaction rate occurs at the rate that would be set by mass transfer with zero
concentration in the bulk liquid
Design is sensitive to increase in area a

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design

Vapor-Liquid Reaction Kinetics


For either of the slow regimes to occur we need reaction
to mainly occur in the bulk liquid
Reaction in film << Reaction in bulk
a k1 C A,i << a k L (C A,i C A, )
if C A, 0, and = D / k L , where D is diffusivity
D k1
<< 1
2
kL

We define the Hatta number, Ha as:

Ha =

D k1
kL

If the Hatta number is ~1 or greater then we have the


fast or instantaneous regimes and the analysis is
more complicated: see reaction engineering textbooks
2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with
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Chemical Engineering Design

Questions ?

2012 G.P. Towler / UOP. For educational use in conjunction with


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Chemical Engineering Design