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A= Heat Exchanger

B = Thermal catalytic reactor
C = Condenser
D = Settling tank decanter
E = Reboiler
F = Distillation tower/column

Heat Exchanger
Heater A, can also called as preheater because the purpose of the equipment is to ensure
ethyl benzene (C8H10) meet the requirement of the operating temperature for the catalytic reactor.
Therefore, this will reduce the surface tension for easier mixing and separation of the water.
In industry, commonly they used heat exchanger to preheat products. There are two types
fluid flow inside the heat exchanger which are product stream and steam/hot water line. The hot
water/steam usually comes from the boiler. Below is example of heat exchanger that commonly
used in industry.

Figure 1 Plate/fin Heat Exchanger

Figure 2 Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger

Plate/Fin heat exchanger consists many thin metal plates with a large surface area in order
to increase the rate of heat transfer.

Meanwhile, shell and tube heat exchangers, one fluid flows through a set of metal tubes
while the second fluid passes through a sealed shell that surrounds them. The two fluids can flow
either in the parallel flow, counter flow and cross flow.

Catalytic Reactor

Figure 3 Example of Catalytic Dehydrogenation Reactor

The purpose of Catalytic Dehydrogenation Reactor in this project is for the removal of
hydrogen from ethyl benzene (C8H10) in order to produce styrene (C8H8). Steam can be added or
either mixed with ethyl benzene before feeding into the reactor. This process involves a highly
endothermic reaction carried out in the vapor phase over a solid catalyst. In this process, steam
gives multi function When the reaction is complete; the catalyst will looks just like it went in. In
other words, the catalyst does not change chemically. It causes reactions between other chemicals.
The catalyst that commonly used is iron oxide.

Dehydrogenation of ethyl benzene is carried out in the presence of steam because:
1) It supplies necessary heat of reaction
2) It lowers the partial pressure of ethyl benzene, shifting the equilibrium toward styrene and
minimizing the loss to thermal cracking.
3) It cleans the catalyst by reacting with carbon to produce carbon dioxide and hydrogen


Figure 4 Example of Industrial Condenser

Condenser is used to condense a substance from its gaseous to its liquid through heat
transfer. Usually the petroleum and chemical industries use condensers for hydrocarbons and other
chemical vapours.

Condensers can be built as either direct contact condensers or surface

condensers depending on the method of heat transfer.

Direct contact condensers transfer heat through direct contact between the gas and the
liquid. Since there is no boundary for separation, both the liquid and the gas must be of the
same material (e.g. water and steam).

Indirect contact condensers transfers heat through a thermally conductive boundary layer,
typically a plate, shell, or tube. The boundary layer permits heat transfer but prevents mixing
or contamination of the fluid streams.

Surface condensers are heat exchanger condensers most commonly designed for steam
turbines in thermal power plants. Typically, these devices have a large well to collect the
condensed steam. Surface condensers also have connections for air ejectors or other
vacuum equipment to remove air and other substances that will not condense.

Based on the process flow diagram, the product stream from reactor including all of the
water, ethyl benzene and styrene will be cooled to T7 at Condenser, C. Meanwhile, hydrogen will be
passing out as recoverable by-product of the process at T10.


Experiment Styrene Production from Ethylbenzene. (2012) Faculty of Biochemical and
Chemical Engineering. [ONLINE]. [Accessed 3rd October, 2014]. Available from World Wide

Condensers Information. (2014) Globalspec Product & Suppliers. [ONLINE]. [Accessed 7th