Robust Autothermal Microchannel Reactors

by Richard C. Pattison and Michael Baldea

Computer-Aided Chemical Engineering 2014 34, 399-404

Microchannel reactors are one of the most successful implementations of the concept of process intensification in the chemical industry. However, combining unit operations at miniature scales reduces the number of measurements and actuators available, and poses specific control challenges for the resulting system. In this paper, we discuss the integration of two novel microchannel reactor design concepts that yield significant operational and control benefits. Specifically, we consider a segmented catalyst macromorphology along with confining a phase change material layer in the reactor structure, as the means for optimizing both the steady-state and transient temperature profiles in the reactor. Using an autothermal reactor for steam-methane reforming as a simulation case study, we show that the synergy of these concepts leads to improved temperature distribution and conversion, and increased resilience to disturbances.

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