(370d) High Heat Transfer, Low Pressure Drop Structured Catalytic Reactors for Steam Methane Reforming

De Wilde, J., Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL)

Steam methane reforming is conventionally carried out in packed bed reactors. The reactor performance is determined by heat transfer and intra-particle diffusion limitations. In structured catalytic reactors, a thin catalyst layer is coated on the reactor internals, which allows reducing or eliminating intra-particle diffusion limitations. Different structured catalytic reactor designs have been studied. The design considered in the present work is based on the ZoneFlow reactor casing consisting of alternating and connected sectors with blades guiding the flow towards and away from the wall. Previous work [1,2] showed that compared to packed bed reactors, ZoneFlow reactors offer an improved performance due to a combination of reduced intra-particle diffusion limitations and intensified heat transfer with the wall. Furthermore, the pressure drop can be significantly reduced.

In the present work, detailed Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations are carried out to study the influence of the most important ZoneFlow casing design parameters on the heat transfer and the pressure drop in a wide gas flow rate range. The flow pattern explains how a combination of low pressure drop and high heat transfer can be achieved and how the reactor design can be optimized. A comparison with packed bed reactors is also made showing significant process intensification is possible.

[1] De Wilde J., Froment G.F., Fuel, 100, p. 48-56, 2012.

[2] De Wilde J., Froment G.F., Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 52, p. 14055-14065, 2013.