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Shorter communications

Chemical Engineering Science, 1964, Vol. 19, pp. 994-997. Pergamon Press Ltd., Oxford. Printed in Great Britain.

Plug-flow type reactor versus tank reactor

(Received 9 June 1964)

IT IS generally agreed that plug-flow type reactors are to be and k3. Some calculations which may be helpful in this
preferred if the desired reaction product is liable to degrada- choice are presented in this communication.
tion, hence in the case of consecutive reactions. On the The rates of formation of A and B are assumed to be:
other hand, the tank reactor is indicated if high selectivities
TA = -klA - k3A2
are desired in the case of higher-order side reactions. The
choice between both types of reactors becomes more difficult, rB = klA - kaB
however, if both a consecutive reaction and a simultaneous
higher-order parallel reaction occur in the reaction scheme. The relation between yield of B and conversion of A may be
The simplest example of such a combination is: derived from these equations.
In a plug-flow type reactor we have:
fir kz
A-+B+C
ka rB dB
-_=-=-+
A +A+D. rA dA -' A0 A$::$) (I
1 +alA
Degradation of the desired product B to C can be suppres-
sed by using short residence times and the plug flow reactor. where:
By-product formation via the second reaction, however, is ar = ksAO/kl and a2 = kzlkl.
lowest if the concentration of A is low, hence if long resi- and A0 = the initial concentration of A.
dence times and the tank reactor are used. The choice of
reactor type and the length of the residence time will be
governed by the relative values of the rate constants kl, kz

FIG. 2. Comparison of plug-flow reactor and tank


reactor (yield
^. and selectivity).
^ _ The points correspond
to pans of values of al and a2 for which both types of
reactor give the same maximum yield. The upper line
corresponds to equal selectivity for both types of reactor
FIG. 1. Yield-conversion relations in plug-flow reactors (at zero conversion)

994
Shorter c o m m u n i c a t i o n s

Table 1. Relation between concentrations o f startiny product and desired end product in a plug-flow reactor for various ratios
o f reaction rate constants

B'= - { ~ } a z f (1+alA')a*'-i
A'a~ dA' B ' = 0 for A ' = 1

1 1 +al
az = 0 B ' = - - In - -
as 1 + al`4"
p--q l
a~ = 0"25 B,= ll-ln(P--1)(q + 1)
2 log t a n 1 ~ ]
~t (p + l ) ( q - - 1)
[alA' + 1 t 0.25 tal + 11 o.25
P : t a T J q= I al 1

B ' = -- { .4' t 0.5 [ ~ / [ h ' (1 + al`4")] + ~/[A'(I + alA') + 1/4ad]


a~ = 0.5 al(1 + alA')! In ~/(1 + al) + a / [ l + a ' - ~ ' ~ ' ~ l ] "J

A" In A '
az= 1
1 + alA"

A' 2 -- al In A ' ]

a2 = 0 ax = 0.5 B'max = 0.81 (A')B'=max = 0


= 1.0 = 0.693 =0
= 2-0 = 0.55 =0

a~ = 0.5 a l = 0.5 B'ma~ = 0"425 (A')B'=max = 0"21


= 1.0 =0"37 = 0"19
= 2.0 =0"3 = 0"15

a~ = 1 al -- 0.5 B'rna,, = 0"31 (A')n,=max=0"31


= 1.0 = 0"27 =0"27
= 2.0 = 0"24 =0"24

a2=2 al = 0.5 B'max = 0".22 (A')n,=ma~ = 0"44


= 1.0 = 0"20 = 0-40
= 2.0 = 0"17 = 0"35

I n t e g r a t i o n o f e q u a t i o n (1) yields: is highest at zero conversion o f A (A' = 1). However, if


al > a2 (kaAo > k2), then t h e selectivity passes t h r o u g h a
B' ( A' ~ /" (1 + alA')a~ -1 m a x i m u m for a conversion higher t h a n zero.
= - - i ~ a z J A'a~ dA', (2) T h e condition al > a~, o r kaAo > k~ follows f r o m t h e
condition:
B A
the initial c o n d i t i o n being that B" = ~00 = 0 for A ' = ~oo = 1. (d2B'~ > 0.
T h e integral o n the r i g h t - h a n d side o f e q u a t i o n (2) c a n dA'2 ] a , . t
o n l y be solved analytically for s o m e explicit values o f a~, These s a m e conditions also h o l d for the t a n k reactor, where
viz. for a~ = 0, 1/8, 1/6, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. A few
expressions for yield a n d c o n v e r s i o n c a n be derived with the
s o l u t i o n s are given in Table 1. W i t h the aid o f t h e a n a -
aid o f t h e relation:
logue c o m p u t e r a graphical solution o f e q u a t i o n (2) was
obtained which covered a r a n g e o f 10-~ < a~ < 2. A result ra 1 -- A'
o f these calculations is given in Fig. 1, where the yield o f rB B"
B ( = B ' ) is plotted against A' ( = 1 -- conversion). T h e figure
s h o w s t h a t B ' passes t h r o u g h a m a x i m u m (B'ma~) for which I n Table 2 a survey is given o f various relations holding for
we find t h a t : t h e plug-flow type reactor a n d for the t a n k reactor.
a 2 . B'max = ( A')B'=max
Comparison o f plug-flaw reactor and tank reactor
S o m e values o f (A')B'=max a n d B'max are given in Table I.
T h e selectivity ( = B ' / ( 1 -- A')) for the p r o d u c t B c a n be A s a basis for c o m p a r i s o n either t h e m a x i m u m yield o f B
considered as well. I f al < a2 (ksAo < k2), t h e n the selectivity or the m a x i m u m selectivity for B will be used.

995
Shorter communications

\
I
-- TeiNK REACTOR
FIG. 4. Ratio between residence times in plug-flow
-----PLUG-FLOW REACTOR
reactor and tank reactor as function of the conversion
A comparison on the basis of the maximum value for the
selectivity (= A,) shows that fork& 5 k2 both reactor
1
types give the same value viz. m&x= 1 + k3A0,kl.

However, this value is obtained at zero conversion of A.


At higher conversions the tank reactor gives the highest
selectivity. If ksAo > k2, the maximum value for the selecti-
FIG. 3. The maximum selectivity as a function of the vity is always higher in the tank reactor (see Fig. 3).
relative rate constants al and az Three regions can now be distinguished in Fig. 2:

Region Highest yield of B Highest selectivity


From the computer curves it was found that:
(~ma&lug 2 (Bm%&ank if U2 2 0.04 d4 I Tank Tank
II Plug flow Tank
The line corresponding to the relation a2 = 0.04 ~11i.~and III Plug flow Tank = plug flow
the calculated points are shown in Fig. 2.

Table 2. Mathematical relation for plug-flow type reactors and tank reactors

da2
Maxm selectivity for B
A rB = 2a24@1) + (1 - az)-\/ @2 )

c11A~ + A(1 - ~2) + a2= - ii


III&X forA= kz
J ksAo

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