Parametric Sensitivity of Plug Flow Reactor With Heat Exchange

For an exothermic, gas-phase reaction in a plug flow reactor (PFR) with heat exchange, this Demonstration plots the temperature and molar flow rate of the reactant as a function of distance down the reactor. The feed temperature, the activation energy for the rate constant, and the total molar flow rate can be varied. Thermal runaway is shown to be a sensitive function (parametric sensitivity) of the feed temperature and the activation energy.


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This is a model of the partial oxidation of o-xylene in a large excess of oxygen in a 1.5 m long plug flow reactor.
The first-order rate expression:
= rate of reaction (mol )
= pre-exponential factor in rate constant ()
= activation energy (kJ )
= ideal gas constant (atm )
= ideal gas constant (kJ )
= absolute temperature in reactor (K)
= pressure (atm)
= molar flow of the reactant (o-xylene) (kmol)
= total molar flow of feed (kmol)
= average molecular weight of the feed (kg )
= mole fraction of reactant (o-xylene) in the feed
Mole balance as a function of reactor length:
= cross section area of PFR ()
Energy balance as a function of length:
= heat of reaction (J )
= mass flow rate (kg )
= mass heat capacity of gas in reactor (kJ )
= radius of PFR (m)
= overall heat transfer coefficient (kJ )
= temperature of heat transfer fluid surrounding the reactor (K)
= feed temperature (K)
[1] J. B. Rawlings and J. G. Ekerdt, Chemical Reactor Analysis and Design Fundamentals, Madison, WI: Nob Hill Publishing, 2002 pp. 323–326.
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