(625c) Experimental and CFD Simulation of Methane Steam Reforming Reaction/Deactivation in a Catalytic Fixed-Bed Reactor

Authors: 
G. Dixon, A., Worcester Polytechnic Institute
M. Wright, P., Johnson Matthey Catalysts


Modeling of fluid flow, heat transfer and reaction in fixed-beds is an essential part of their design. This is particularly important for highly endothermic reactions in low tube-to-particle diameter ratio (N) tubes.  The highly endothermic commercial methane steam reforming (MSR) reaction was studied experimentally and computationally in a low-N fixed-bed reactor at different operating conditions.  Experimental results showed strong effect of MSR reaction on temperature contributions inside the catalyst particles. A Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of the fixed-bed reactor was developed under the reaction conditions similar to the experiments. The CFD simulation showed very good agreement with experimental data for temperature inside the catalyst particles and in the fluid zone under the MSR reacting conditions.

In addition, a 3D resolved CFD model simulation was extended to study the local details of carbon deposition in which the MSR reactions and deactivation occurred inside the catalytic solid particles. Carbon was formed at low steam to carbon flow rate ratios and high temperature conditions inside the catalyst particles. Carbon was initially deposited fastest at the high-temperature locations close to the surface in the catalyst particles. The results suggested that the shape of catalyst particles can change the potential of carbon formation inside the particles.