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Single Pellet String Reactor for Intensification of Catalyst Testing in Gas/Liquid/Solid Configuration

Abstract : Catalyst improvement is a key route toward process improvement in terms of yield, energy efficiency and selectivity optimization. The catalyst development strategy includes catalyst testing on a model or real feedstock. This key step has been the focus of many studies during the last decades concerning reactor design, analytical tool development and operating procedures. Most studies aim to determine catalytic grain activity in isothermal conditions so as to be able to understand and predict the kinetics. With catalyst improvement, in the lab-scale reactors available, the mass transfer rate can become the limiting step compared with the reaction rate, especially for fast exothermic reactions. A new reactor geometry is proposed to intensify the mass transfer and to accelerate the fluid superficial velocities: the single pellet string reactor. To characterize this new geometry, a hydrodynamic study was carried out in a horizontal single pellet string reactor with a 4.0 × 4.0 mm2 square section, filled with spherical particles of diameter varying between 2.0 and 4.0 mm. In this hydrodynamic study, visual observations of the flow patterns were performed, as well as pressure drop measurements and residence time distribution analysis in single liquid phase flow and two-phase flows. In every configuration tested, two main regimes were identified: the “isolated bubbles” regime and the “stratified” regime. Peclet number and liquid hold-up were deduced from the residence time distribution analysis. The measured liquid hold-ups are always higher than 0.6, which indicates, in addition to the visual observations and colorimetric tests, that the catalyst is always fully wetted by the liquid film. The axial dispersion measurements showed that the single liquid phase flow cannot be interpreted by a classical axial dispersion model. However, when a gas phase is added, the flow becomes closer to plug flow, with Peclet numbers always higher than 40. It has been shown that the pressure drop is controlled by the liquid/solid friction surface and that the pressure drop is not a limiting parameter in the reactor’s operation (values always lower than 0.1 bar). So, from a hydrodynamic point of view, this new reactor exhibits characteristics suitable for its use in catalytic tests. Finally, this reactor was implemented under reaction conditions to study hydrogenation reactions with a real industrial catalyst. The selective hydrogenation of allene was studied. The string reactor was shown to run isothermal kinetic tests with a very small amount of industrial-sized catalyst particles (less than 2 cc) and to explore kinetics of fast reaction at high space velocities impossible to achieve in standard fixed bed units with appropriate hydrodynamic conditions. For constant residence time, the allene conversion does not vary with pressure and feed flow rate, which confirms that the string reactor allows one to perform catalytic tests with such a fast reaction without external mass transfer resistance.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 28, 2018 - 10:48:39 AM
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Ana Isabel Fernandes Hipolito, Matthieu Rolland, Christophe Boyer, Claude de Bellefon. Single Pellet String Reactor for Intensification of Catalyst Testing in Gas/Liquid/Solid Configuration. Oil & Gas Science and Technology - Revue d'IFP Energies nouvelles, Institut Français du Pétrole, 2010, 65 (5), pp.689-701. ⟨10.2516/ogst/2009079⟩. ⟨hal-01930944⟩



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