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Simple reaction in a PFR, gas phase, negligible pressure drop

Consider a reaction A  B . It is in gas phase, with the pressure at the inlet as 15 atm (1 atm =
105 Pa). Temperature is 375 K. Total volumetric flow rate at the inlet is 5 lit/s. The molecular
weight of A is 60 g/gmol. PFR is made of 2 cm pipe. The reaction is first order, with rate
constant of 0.1 s-1. We need 60% conversion. The viscosity can be assumed to be 10-5 Pa-s.

i) What is the total molar flow rate at the inlet?


ii) What is the density of the gas at the inlet?
iii) What are the Reynolds number, and friction factor?
iv) Write the design equation for PFR and the pressure drop equation.
v) Find the volume of reactor needed for 60% conversion.

Solution:
Please refer to the previous problem (where pipe diameter was 5 cm) to learn the procedure. The
numerical values are given here

Area = 3.1416×10-4 m2
Vav-in = 15.92 m/s
in is still 29.2469 kg/m3.
Re = 9.31×105
ff = 0.0029.

The value of  is 1037 atm2 m-3 for these values.

 3  0.9163
 
3

 Pin  Pin  2V   0.4444    2138


2 2

P   P  2138  1237
3
2
in  2V 2 3
in

P 2
in  2V   115.2
Volume = 52.9 lit
Length =168 m

Pressure At the outlet about 10.73 atm (abs), thus pressure drop is about 4.27 atm.

Variation -1. What if we have used a pipe of 1 cm diameter?

The procedure is the same.


Area = 7.8540×10-5 m2.
We find Vav-in to be 63.6620 m/s.
Re = 1.86×106.
ff = 0.0026.
 =118437 atm2 m-3.
This is much higher than the value in the previous cases because the diameter (D7 in the
denominator) is very small. The friction factor is slightly less, but that does not affect the value
of alpha a lot.

If we proceed further, we find,  Pin3  Pin2  2V


   0.9163
3

  0.4444    2.44 10


2 5

P 
3
2
in  2V 2
 Pin3  2.44 105  2.41105

We will not get a real, physically meaningful value for the volume, it will only be a complex
number. Now, what does that mean? It means that we will NOT be able to maintain the desired
inlet flow rate with the given pressure at the inlet, in this particular pipe.

When we change from a pipe of 5 cm dia to 2 cm dia, the change in length is not unreasonable
(46 lit to 53 lit), but when we go from 2 cm to 1 cm dia pipe, the change in length is quite high
(in fact, we can’t get the desired flow rate with given pressure. This is because the frictional
forces that need be overcome are very high).

Variation -2: If we have only 1 cm pipe, can we get at least 1% conversion? Yes,

We get the same Re, ff etc, but when we use the design equation with 1% conversion we get
 
 
3
 ln 1  x   0.0101, and  Pin3  Pin2  2V 2   2678
 

P   697
3
2
in  2V 2

P 2
in  2V   78.6

Reactor volume = V =0.6 lit


Reactor Length = 7.9 m
Pout = 8.86 atm (abs)