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. You can vary the feed temperature, the activation energy for the rate constant, and the total molar flow rate. Thermal runaway is shown to be a sensitive function (parametric sensitivity) of the feed temperature and the activation energy.


  • [Snapshot]
  • [Snapshot]
  • [Snapshot]


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
= temperature-independent term in rate constant expression
= constant temperature used in rate constant expression
= activation energy
= ideal gas constant in atm
= ideal gas constant in kJ
= absolute temperature in reactor
= pressure
= molar flow of the reactant (o-xylene)
= total molar flow of feed
= average molecular weight of the feed
= 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
= mass flow rate
= mass heat capacity of gas in reactor
= radius of PFR
= overall heat transfer coefficient
= temperature of heat transfer fluid surrounding the reactor
= feed temperature
[1] J. B. Rawlings and J. G. Ekerdt, Chemical Reactor Analysis and Design Fundamentals, Madison, WI: Nob Hill Publishing, 2002 pp. 323–326.
    • Share:

Embed Interactive Demonstration New!

Just copy and paste this snippet of JavaScript code into your website or blog to put the live Demonstration on your site. More details »

Files require Wolfram CDF Player or Mathematica.

Mathematica »
The #1 tool for creating Demonstrations
and anything technical.
Wolfram|Alpha »
Explore anything with the first
computational knowledge engine.
MathWorld »
The web's most extensive
mathematics resource.
Course Assistant Apps »
An app for every course—
right in the palm of your hand.
Wolfram Blog »
Read our views on math,
science, and technology.
Computable Document Format »
The format that makes Demonstrations
(and any information) easy to share and interact with.
STEM Initiative »
Programs & resources for
educators, schools & students.
Computerbasedmath.org »
Join the initiative for modernizing
math education.
Powered by Wolfram Mathematica © 2014 Wolfram Demonstrations Project & Contributors  |  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  RSS Give us your feedback
Note: To run this Demonstration you need Mathematica 7+ or the free Mathematica Player 7EX
Download or upgrade to Mathematica Player 7EX
I already have Mathematica Player or Mathematica 7+