(8f) Advanced Manufacturing Enabling Process Intensification for Catalytic Processes | AIChE

(8f) Advanced Manufacturing Enabling Process Intensification for Catalytic Processes


Ide, M. S. - Presenter, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering
Chun, C., ExxonMobil Research and Engineering
Skoulidas, A., ExxonMobil
Lamberti, W. A., ExxonMobil Research and Engineering
Dankworth, D., ExxonMobil Research and Engineering
Advanced manufacturing is a transformative and disruptive approach to industrial production that enables the rapid synthesis of virtually any geometry composed of a wide range of materials, such as polymers, ceramics, and metals. Process intensification is a set of novel approaches to process engineering and equipment design that leads to substantially smaller, more selective, and energy-efficient processing plants. The integration of advanced manufacturing with process intensification accelerates process development and deployment through rapid prototyping and enables new hardware that overcomes transport limitations. Advanced manufacturing (ex. 3D printing or additive manufacturing) is the physical backbone of Industry 4.0 that can take advantage of the conclusions of big data and machine learning by allowing design freedom. This expansion of the material design window can be utilized to reduce GHG intensity for novel or existing processes.

Numerous conversion technologies in the energy industry suffer from rapid coke build-up and subsequent deactivation of a catalytic material that is exposed to a carburizing environment. The time scale of deactivation often determines the reactor technology and process configuration employed. Commercial examples of deactivating catalysts range from seconds in a fluid bed catalytic cracking unit to minutes for moving bed propane dehydrogenation and days for continuous catalytic reformers or even years for steam methane reformers. A common step for these processes is the regeneration of the catalytic material via combustion of the coke. However, the cyclic process of coking in a carburizing environment followed by combustion in an oxidizing environment can often be detrimental to catalyst performance.

This work will discuss how advanced manufacturing methods can enable construction of materials capable of rapidly switching between two different environments with enhanced catalytic activity. Such materials capable of withstanding cyclic carburizing and oxidizing steps can be efficiently integrated into novel reactor concepts. The conversion of light gas is an excellent probe reaction for elucidating this behavior. In an effort to search for robust materials, honeycomb structures composed of metal were fabricated by direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), a 3D printing technique that involves the layer-wise successive deposition of micron-sized powder followed by laser induced sintering. The cyclic operation that alternates between carburizing and oxidizing environments leads to compositional modification at the surface of the monolith channels that imparts in-situ catalytic activity.