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Types of Chemical Reactors

Nasir Hussain
Production and Operations Engineer
PARCO Oil Refinery
Reactor is the heart of Chemical Process.
A vessel designed to contain chemical
reactions is called a reactor.
An industrial reactor is a complex
chemical device in which heat transfer,
mass transfer, diffusion and friction may
occur along with chemical with the
provisions of safety and controls
Basic Principle
All chemical processes are centered in a
chemical reactor. The design of a
chemical reactor Is the most important
factor in determining the overall process
Basics for Design
Reaction Type
Removal/addition of heat
Need for catalyst
Phases involve
The mode of temperature and pressure
Production capacity or flow
Residence time
Contact/mixing between the reactants
Reaction Types
Direct Combination or Synthesis
A + B = AB
Chemical Decomposition or Analysis
AB = A + B
Reaction Types
Single Displacement or Substitution
A + BC = AC + B
Metathesis or Double Displacement
AB + CD = CB
In addition to the basic data, include:
A heat and mass transfer characteristics
Physical, chemical and thermodynamic
properties of components taking part in
the reaction.
Corrosion- erosion characteristics of any
potential hazard associated with
reaction system.
Reaction Rate
Endothermic/Exothermic Reactions

within- heating describes a process or

reaction that absorbs energy in the form of
Release energy in the form of heat, light, or
S > 0
H < 0
Reaction Rate

Speed at which a chemical reaction proceeds,

in terms of amount of product formed or
amount of reactant consumed per unit time.
Factors Influencing Reaction Rate

The nature of reaction
Modeling Principle:

Inputs + Sources = Output + Sink +

Basic Reactor Element

Material Balances
Heat Transfer and Mass Transfer
Material Balances
Also called mass balance.
Is an application of conservation of mass
to the analysis of physical systems.
The mass that enters a system must, by
conservation of mass, either leave the
system or accumulate within the system .
Mass Balance

Mathematically the mass balance

for a system without a chemical
reaction is as follows
Input = Output + Accumulation
Mass Transfer

Is the phrase commonly used in

engineering for physical processes that
involve molecular and convective
transport of atoms and molecules within
physical system.
Transfer of mass from high concentration
to low concentration.
Heat Transfer
Is the transition of thermal
energy from a heated item to
a cooler item.
Transfer of Thermal Energy
Modes Of Heat Transfer
internal coils,
external heat exchanger,
cooling by vapor phase
fired heater.
Reactor Types
They can be classified according to the;
1. Mode of operation
2. End use application
3. No of Phases
4. A catalyst is used
Classification by Mode of Operation

Batch Reactors
Continuous reactors
Semi-batch reactors
Batch Reactor
A batch of reactants is introduced into
the reactor operated at the desired
conditions until the target conversion is
Batch reactors are typically tanks in which
stirring of the reactants is achieved using
internal impellers, gas bubbles, or a pump-
around loop where a fraction of the
reactants is removed and externally
recirculated back to the reactor.
Batch Reactors
Temperature is regulated via internal
cooling surfaces (such as coils or tubes),
jackets, reflux condensers, or pump-
around loop that passes through an
Batch processes are suited to small
production rates, too long reaction
times, to achieve desired selectivity, and
for flexibility in campaigning different
Batch Reactor
Applications of Batch reactor
Fermentation of beverage products
Waste water treatment
Continuous Reactors
Reactants are added and products
removed continuously at a constant
mass flow rate. Large daily production
rates are mostly conducted in
continuous equipment.
Continuous Reactors
Plug Flow Reactor
Tubular flow reactor
A continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR)
is a vessel to which reactants are added
and products removed while the
contents within the vessel are vigorously
stirred using internal agitation or by
internally (or externally) recycling the
CSTRs may be employed in series or in
Residence time average amount of time a
discrete quantity of reagents spend inside the
Residence time = volumetric flow rate
volume of the tank
At steady state, the flow rate in must be equal
the mass flow rate out.
CSTR Applications
Continuous stirred-tank reactors are most
commonly used in industrial processing,
primarily in homogeneous liquid-phase
flow reactions, where constant agitation is
required. They may be used by themselves,
in series, or in a battery.
Fermentors are CSTRs used in biological
processes in many industries, such as
brewing, antibiotics, and waste treatment.
In fermentors, large molecules are broken
down into smaller molecules, with alcohol
produced as a by-product.
Advantages/Disadvantages of CSTR
Good temperature control is easily
Cheap to construct
Reactor has large heat capacity
Interior of reactor is easily accessed
Conversion of reactant to product per
volume of reactor is small compared to
other flow reactors
Plug Flow Reactor

Plug flow, or tubular, reactors consist of a

hollow pipe or tube through which reactants
flow. Pictured below is a plug flow reactor in
the form of a tube wrapped around an
acrylic mold which is encased in a tank.
Water at a controlled temperature is
circulated through the tank to maintain
constant reactant temperature.
Plug Flow Reactor

Reagents may be introduced into the reactors inlet

All calculations performed with PFRs assume no

upstream or downstream mixing.

Has a higher efficiency than a CSTR at the same value
Schematic Diagram of Plug Flow Reactor
Applications of Plug flow reactor
Plug flow reactors have a wide variety of
applications in either gas or liquid phase
systems. Common industrial uses of tubular
reactors are in gasoline production, oil cracking,
synthesis of ammonia from its elements, and
the oxidation of sulfur dioxide to sulfur trioxide.
Tubular Flow Reactor
A tubular flow reactor (TFR) is a tube (or pipe)
through which reactants flow and are
converted to product.
The TFR may have a varying diameter along the
flow path.
In such a reactor, there is a continuous gradient
(in contrast to the stepped gradient
characteristic of a CSTR-inseries battery) of
concentration in the direction of flow.
Several tubular reactors in series or in parallel
may also be used. Both horizontal and vertical
orientations are common
Tubular Flow Reactor

Chemical reactions take place in a stream of gas

that carries reactants from the inlet to the outlet

The catalysts are in tubes Uniform loading

is ensured by using special equipment that
charges the same amount of catalyst to
each tube at a definite rate.
Semi Batch Reactor
Some of the reactants are loaded into the reactor, and
the rest of the reactants are fed gradually. Alternatively,
one reactant is loaded into the reactor, and the other
reactant is fed continuously.
Once the reactor is full, it may be operated in a batch
mode to complete the reaction. Semi-batch reactors are
especially favored when there are large heat effects and
heat-transfer capability is limited. Exothermic reactions
may be slowed down and endothermic reactions
controlled by limiting reactant concentration.
Semi Batch reactors
In bioreactors, the reactant concentration may
be limited to minimize toxicity.
Other situations that may call for semibatch
reactors include control of undesirable by-
products or when one of the reactants is a gas
of limited solubility that is fed continuously at
the dissolution rate.
Classification By End Use
Chemical reactors are typically used for the
synthesis of chemical intermediates for a
variety of specialty (e.g., agricultural,
pharmaceutical) or commodity (e.g., raw
materials for polymers) applications.
Classification by End use
Polymerization Reactors
Electrochemical Reactors
Polymerization Reactors
Polymerization reactors convert raw materials
to polymers having a specific molecular weight
and functionality. The difference between
polymerization and chemical reactors is
artificially based on the size of the molecule
Bio Reactors
Bioreactors utilize (often genetically
manipulated) organisms to catalyze
biotransformations either aerobically (in the
presence of air) or an-aerobically (without air
Electrochemical reactors
Electrochemical reactors use electricity to drive
desired reactions.
Examples include synthesis of Na metal from
NaCl and Al from bauxite ore.
A variety of reactor types are employed for
specialty materials synthesis applications (e.g.,
electronic, defense, and other).
Classification by Phase
Despite the generic classification by operating
mode, reactors are designed to accommodate the
reactant phases and provide optimal conditions for
Reactants may be fluid(s) or solid(s), and as such,
several reactor types have been developed.
Single phase reactors are typically gas- (or plasma- )
or liquid-phase reactors.
Two-phase reactors may be gas-liquid, liquid-liquid,
gas-solid, or liquid-solid reactors.
Classification by phase
Multiphase reactors typically have more than
two phases present. The most common type of
multiphase reactor is a gas-liquid-solid reactor;
however, liquid-liquid-solid reactors are also
used. The classification by phases will be used
to develop the contents of this section.
Classification by Phase
In addition, a reactor may perform a function other
than reaction alone. Multifunctional reactors may
provide both reaction and mass transfer (e.g., reactive
distillation, reactive crystallization, reactive membranes,
etc.), or reaction and heat transfer.
This coupling of functions within the reactor inevitably
leads to additional operating constraints on one or the
other function. Multifunctional reactors are often
discussed in the context of process intensification.
The primary driver for multifunctional reactors is
functional synergy and equipment cost savings.

It is the acceleration of chemical

reaction by means of substance
called catalyst.
Principles of Catalysis:

Typical mechanism:
A + C AC (1)
B + AC ABC (2)
ABC CD (3)
CD C + D (4)
Catalysis and
reaction energetic.
What is Phase?
Two Types of Catalyst:

the catalyst in the
same phase as the

Involves the use of a

catalyst in a different phase
from the reactants.
How the heterogeneous catalyst

Active Sites

Is where something
sticks to a surface.
Active Sites

Is a part of the surface

which is particularly good
at adsorbing things and
helping them to react.

means that the

product molecules
break away.
Kinds of Catalyst
Strong Acids
Base Catalysis
Metal oxides, Sulfides, and
Metal and Alloys
Transition-metal Organometallic
Strong Acids

Is an acid that ionizes

completely in an
aqueous solution
Base Catalysis
Is most commonly thought of as an
aqueous substance that can accept
Base the chemical opposite of acids.
Often referred to as an alkali if OH
ions are involved.
Metal Oxides

Form a transition between

acid/base and metal
Metal and Alloy
Metal is a chemical elements whose
atoms readily lose electrons to form
positive ions (cations), and form metallic
bonds between other metal atoms and
ionic bonds between nonmetal atoms.
The principal industrial metallic catalyst,
are found in periodic group VII
Transition-metal Organometallic

More effective
hydrogenation than are
metals such as platinum.
Fluid and Solid Catalysis

Multitubular reactors
Fluidized beds
Fixed Bed
Spray Tower
Two-Phase Flow
Multitubular reactors

These reactors are shell-

and-tube configuration and
have catalyst in the tubes.
Multi tubular Reactor
Fluidized Bed

Device that can be used to carry

out a variety of multiphase
chemical reactions.
A catalyst possibly shaped as tiny
Fluidized Bed Reactor
Fixed Bed
Fixed bed reactor is a
cylindrical tube, randomly
filled with catalyst particles,
which may be spheres or
cylindrical pellets.
Fixed Bed Reactor

Are a form of pollution control

Consist of empty cylindrical vessels
made of steel or plastic and nozzles
that spray liquid into the vessels
Two types of Spray Towers:

1.Cocurrent Flow
-are smaller than countercurrent-flow
spray towers
2.Crosscurrent Flow
- the gas and liquid flow in directions
perpendicular to each other.
Two-Phase Flow

occurs in a system containing

gas and liquid with a meniscus
separating the two phases.
Two-phase flow may be classified
according to the phases involved

gas-solid mixture
gas-liquid mixture
liquid-solid mixture
two-immiscible-liquids mixture
Diesel Hydrotreator
Hydrotreating is an established refinery process
for reducing sulphur, nitrogen and aromatics
while enhancing cetane number, density and
smoke point. The refining industrys efforts to
meet the global trend for more-stringent clean
fuels specifications, the growing demand for
transportation fuels and the shift toward diesel
mean that hydrotreating has become an
increasingly important refinery process in
recent years.