Compact Heat Exchange Reactors in Pilot Plants for Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis and Mixed Alcohol Production

Fuels and Petrochemicals Division
AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
April 30, 2013 - 10:47am-11:17am
Chart’s Compact Heat Exchange Reactor (CHER) is a brazed metal reactor with integrated heat exchange capabilities. Because of its high metal surface area and short distance for the heat to travel, the reactor can control highly exothermic and endothermic reactions that are otherwise hard to control with conventional reactors. CHER can be constructed out of a variety of metals, including aluminum and stainless steel. The choice of material is based on the operational conditions that the reactor will experience. Recent data from two pilot plants will be presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of aluminum and stainless steel CHERs to control the reactions.

The first pilot plant is a 1bpd Waste-to-Energy plant where the CHER is used for the highly exothermic Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reaction. The reactor is constructed out of an aluminum core that is housed in a steel vessel (based on Chart’s Core-in-Kettle patented design). The second pilot plant uses a stainless steel CHER for the production of mixed alcohols from syngas.  The alcohol production reaction is also highly exothermic and is operated at higher temperatures and pressures than FT.

A comparison between aluminum and stainless steel reactors will be reviewed. Data for the reactions will be presented and the performance of the reactors will be analyzed. Scalability to commercial plants will also be discussed.

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