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Optimal design of catalytic reactors and structured catalysts

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Our research aims at the development of energy- and resource efficient chemical processes with a special focus on model-based design of optimal catalytic reactors. For this, a novel Multi-Level-Reactor-Design (MLRD) methodology has been developed [1,2] and continuously extended [3-6]. The key idea is to track a fluid element on an abstract level on its way through the – not yet specified – reactor and to optimize the states (e.g. composition and temperature) via material and energy fluxes along its way. The aim is to meet the optimal reaction conditions at every point along the reaction coordinate, which we define as the optimal process route. On the basis of the computed optimal flux profiles novel reactor concepts tailored to the needs of the reaction system can be derived and analyzed. Finally, the most appropriate technical reactor for the approximation and realization of the optimal process route is specified and designed with the help of detailed simulations.

In the realization of the identified optimal process route, specific requirements regarding heat and mass transport characteristics demand for suitable catalyst support materials and structures. In this regard, additive manufacturing techniques allow for the fabrication of periodic open cellular structures (POCS) with well-defined geometrical properties. POCS are promising novel catalyst supports as they can eliminate the drawbacks of conventional randomly packed fixed-bed reactors, i.e., high pressure drop and hotspots. In fact, POCS combine the advantages of randomly packed beds (radial mixing, tortuosity of the flow) and honeycombs (high geometric specific surface area, low pressure drop) owing to their high porosities and their characteristic 3D cellular architecture. Based on extensive experimental investigations as well as modeling and simulation correlations for specific surface area, pressure drop and heat transport for POCS were established [7-11] allowing for the design and optimization of tailor-made POCS as a new class of superior catalyst supports.

Further reading: [1] H.F., K. Sundmacher, Chem. Eng. Process. 47(12) (2008) 2051-2060. [2] A. Peschel, H.F., K. Sundmacher, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 49(21) (2010) 10535-10548. [3] M. Xie, H.F., Chem. Eng. Sci. 175 (2018) 405-415. [4] M. Xie, H.F., Chem. Eng. Process. 123 (2018) 280-290. [5] M. Xie, H.F., Chem. Eng. Process. 124 (2018) 174-185. [6] J. Maußner, H.F., Chem. Eng. Sci. 183 (2018) 329-345. [7] E. Bianchi, G. Groppi, W. Schwieger, E. Tronconi, H.F., Chem. Eng. J. 264 (2015) 268-279. [8] A. Inayat, M. Klumpp, M. Lämmermann, H.F., W. Schwieger, Chem. Eng. J. 287 (2016) 704-719. [9] M. Lämmermann, W. Schwieger, H.F., Catal. Today 273 (2016) 161-171. [10] C. Busse, H.F., W. Schwieger, Chem. Eng. Process. 124 (2018) 199-214. [11] M. Lämmermann, G. Horak, W. Schwieger, H.F., Chem. Eng. Process. 126 (2018) 178-189.

This talk is part of the Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Departmental Seminars series.

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