Membrane Reactor for an Equilibrium-Limited Reaction

The elementary reversible reaction is carried out in a tubular membrane reactor, which combines reaction with separation. Higher conversions are obtained for this equilibrium-limited reaction by selectively removing product through the membrane, which is assumed to only permeate product . The permeate pressure of (the pressure outside the tube) is assumed to be zero. The molar flow rates of reactants and products are divided by the cross-sectional area of the reactor tube in the plot to make the comparison easier when the reactor diameter changes. All values are dimensionless. Use sliders to change the forward reaction rate constant, equilibrium constant, and membrane permeance. When the membrane permeance is low, the reaction is equilibrium limited for large enough rate constants. Increasing the permeance shifts the equilibrium to the right to obtain higher conversions. Increasing the reactor diameter decreases the conversion because the permeation area per reactor volume decreases.
  • Contributed by: Rachael L. Baumann
  • Additional contributions by: John L. Falconer and Nick Bongiardina
  • (University of Colorado Boulder, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering)


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Material balances:
where is the molar flow rate of component (mol/min), is the total molar flow rate (mol/min), is the initial total molar flow rate (mol/min), and are the initial molar flow rates of reactants and (mol/min), is the reactor cross-sectional area (), is the reactor diameter (m), and are the volumetric flow rates down the reactor and initially (), is rate of reaction (), is the rate permeating (mol/min), is the reaction rate constant (), is the equilibrium constant (unitless), and is the membrane permeance, based on concentration difference ().
The screencast video at [1] shows how to use this Demonstration.
[1] Membrane Reactor for an Equilibrium-Limited Reaction. www.colorado.edu/learncheme/kinetics/MembraneReactorEquilibriumLimited.html.


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