Model-based Rapid Prototyping of Fixed Bed Reactor Particles

Model-based Rapid Prototyping of Fixed Bed Reactor Particles

The fixed bed reactor (FBR) is the most commonly used type of reactor in the chemical and process industry (CPI). In general, FBRs are filled with ceramic fillers, so-called particles, which have a central function as fixed-bed catalysts. An ideal particle has a large specific surface and generates a small pressure drop in the bed. In addition, the particle shape has a significant influence on radial heat transport and local velocities. As a result, there are a variety of FBR particle shapes, e.g. spheres, cylinders, hollow cylinders also with webs, etc.

However, the relationship between shape and FBR performance is highly complex and requires considerable development effort. In particular, catalyst development in different particle forms is associated with high costs and time requirements for their production and investigation in complex experiments. As the demands on catalyst particles are likely to increase in the future, for example due to the dynamic operation of FBRs, there is great interest in significantly reducing the development time. The most detailed models of FBRs geometrically map each particle in the reactor. The flow in the interstitial spaces, energy and mass transport in the gas phase and in the solid particles, as well as surface or gas phase reactions are solved throughout the reactor using the finite volume method. These computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations provide insights into FBRs that are experimentally only possible with great effort or not at all.

Within the scope of this project, exploratory work is being carried out, using CFD simulations and additive manufacturing (3D printing) hand in hand to intensify and ultimately accelerate the development of FBR pellet forms. Particle-resolved CFD simulations, 3D-printed plastic particles and subsequent experiments in rapid prototyping are combined.