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Types of Chemical Reactors

Nasir Hussain
Production and Operations
PARCO Oil Refinery


Reactor is the heart of Chemical

A vessel designed to contain
chemical reactions is called a
An industrial reactor is a complex
chemical device in which heat
transfer, mass transfer, diffusion
and friction may occur along with
chemical with the provisions of

Basic Principle

All chemical processes are centered

in a chemical reactor. The design of
a chemical reactor Is the most
important factor in determining the
overall process economics.

Basics for Design

Reaction Type

Removal/addition of heat

Need for catalyst

Phases involve

The mode of temperature and

pressure control.

Production capacity or flow

Residence time

Reaction Types

Direct Combination or Synthesis


A + B = AB

Chemical Decomposition or
Analysis Reaction

AB = A + B

Reaction Types

Single Displacement or Substitution


A + BC = AC + B

Metathesis or Double
Displacement Reaction

AB + CD = CB

In addition to the basic data,

A heat and mass

Physical, chemical and thermodynamic

properties of components taking part in
the reaction.
Corrosion- erosion characteristics of any
potential hazard associated with
reaction system.

Reaction Rate

Endothermic/Exothermic Reactions

within- heating describes a process

or reaction that absorbs energy in the
form of heat.
Release energy in the form of heat,
light, or sound.

S > 0

H < 0

Reaction Rate

Speed at which a chemical reaction

proceeds, in terms of amount of product
formed or amount of reactant consumed
per unit time.

Factors Influencing Reaction Rate


The nature of reaction




Modeling Principle:

Inputs + Sources = Output + Sink +



Reactor Element

Material Balances

Heat Transfer and Mass Transfer

Material Balances

Also called mass balance.

Is an application of conservation of mass
to the analysis of physical systems.
The mass that enters a system must, by
conservation of mass, either leave the
system or accumulate within the system .

Mathematically the mass balance

Mass Balance
for a system without a chemical
reaction is as follows
Input = Output + Accumulation

Is the phrase
used in
engineering for physical processes that
involve molecular and convective
transport of atoms and molecules within
physical system.
Transfer of mass from high concentration
to low concentration.

Heat Transfer

Is the transition of thermal

energy from a heated item to
a cooler item.
Transfer of Thermal Energy

Modes Of Heat Transfer


internal coils,

external heat exchanger,

cooling by vapor phase

fired heater.

Reactor Types

They can be classified according to



Mode of operation


End use application


No of Phases


A catalyst is used

Classification by Mode of

Batch Reactors

Continuous reactors

Semi-batch reactors

Batch Reactor

A batch of reactants is introduced

into the reactor operated at the
desired conditions until the target
conversion is reached.
Batch reactors are typically tanks in
which stirring of the reactants is
achieved using internal impellers,
gas bubbles, or a pump-around
loop where a fraction of the
reactants is removed and externally

Batch Reactors

Temperature is regulated via

internal cooling surfaces (such as
coils or tubes), jackets, reflux
condensers, or pump-around loop
that passes through an exchanger.
Batch processes are suited to small
production rates, too long reaction
times, to achieve desired
selectivity, and for flexibility in
campaigning different products



Applications of Batch reactor

Fermentation of beverage products

Waste water treatment

Continuous Reactors

Reactants are added and products

removed continuously at a
constant mass flow rate. Large daily
production rates are mostly
conducted in continuous

Continuous Reactors


Plug Flow Reactor

Tubular flow reactor


A continuous stirred tank reactor

(CSTR) is a vessel to which
reactants are added and products
removed while the contents within
the vessel are vigorously stirred
using internal agitation or by
internally (or externally) recycling
the contents.
CSTRs may be employed in series
or in parallel.


Residence time average amount of time a

discrete quantity of reagents spend inside the
Residence time = volumetric flow rate
volume of the tank

At steady state, the flow rate in must be equal

the mass flow rate out.

CSTR Applications

Continuous stirred-tank reactors

are most commonly used in
industrial processing, primarily in
homogeneous liquid-phase flow
reactions, where constant agitation
is required. They may be used by
themselves, in series, or in a
Fermentors are CSTRs used in
biological processes in many

Advantages/Disadvantages of
Good temperature
CSTR control is easily


Cheap to construct

Reactor has large heat capacity

Interior of reactor is easily accessed


Conversion of reactant to product

per volume of reactor is small
compared to other flow reactors

Plug Flow Reactor

Plug flow, or tubular, reactors consist of a
hollow pipe or tube through which reactants
flow. Pictured below is a plug flow reactor in
the form of a tube wrapped around an
acrylic mold which is encased in a tank.
Water at a controlled temperature is
circulated through the tank to maintain
constant reactant temperature.

Plug Flow Reactor

Reagents may be introduced into the reactors inlet

All calculations performed with PFRs assume no

upstream or downstream mixing.

Has a higher efficiency than a CSTR at the same value

Schematic Diagram of Plug Flow Reactor

Applications of Plug flow

Plug flow reactors
have a wide variety of
applications in either gas or liquid phase
systems. Common industrial uses of
tubular reactors are in gasoline
production, oil cracking, synthesis of
ammonia from its elements, and the
oxidation of sulfur dioxide to sulfur

Tubular Flow Reactor

A tubular flow reactor (TFR) is a

tube (or pipe) through which
reactants flow and are converted
to product.
The TFR may have a varying
diameter along the flow path.
In such a reactor, there is a
continuous gradient (in contrast to
the stepped gradient characteristic
of a CSTR-inseries battery) of

Tubular Flow Reactor

Chemical reactions take place in a stream of gas
that carries reactants from the inlet to the outlet

The catalysts are in tubes Uniform loading

is ensured by using special equipment that
charges the same amount of catalyst to
each tube at a definite rate.

Semi Batch Reactor

Some of the reactants are loaded into the reactor, and

the rest of the reactants are fed gradually. Alternatively,
one reactant is loaded into the reactor, and the other
reactant is fed continuously.
Once the reactor is full, it may be operated in a batch
mode to complete the reaction. Semi-batch reactors are
especially favored when there are large heat effects and
heat-transfer capability is limited. Exothermic reactions
may be slowed down and endothermic reactions
controlled by limiting reactant concentration.

Semi Batch reactors

In bioreactors, the reactant concentration

may be limited to minimize toxicity.
Other situations that may call for
semibatch reactors include control of
undesirable by-products or when one of
the reactants is a gas of limited solubility
that is fed continuously at the dissolution

Classification By End Use

Chemical reactors are typically used for

the synthesis of chemical intermediates
for a variety of specialty (e.g., agricultural,
pharmaceutical) or commodity (e.g., raw
materials for polymers) applications.

Classification by End use

Polymerization Reactors


Electrochemical Reactors

Polymerization Reactors

Polymerization reactors convert raw

materials to polymers having a specific
molecular weight and functionality. The
difference between polymerization and
chemical reactors is artificially based on
the size of the molecule produced.

Bio Reactors

Bioreactors utilize (often genetically

manipulated) organisms to catalyze
biotransformations either aerobically (in
the presence of air) or an-aerobically
(without air present).

Electrochemical reactors

Electrochemical reactors use electricity to

drive desired reactions.
Examples include synthesis of Na metal
from NaCl and Al from bauxite ore.
A variety of reactor types are employed
for specialty materials synthesis
applications (e.g., electronic, defense,
and other).

Classification by Phase

Despite the generic classification by

operating mode, reactors are designed to
accommodate the reactant phases and
provide optimal conditions for reaction.
Reactants may be fluid(s) or solid(s), and
as such, several reactor types have been
Single phase reactors are typically gas- (or
plasma- ) or liquid-phase reactors.

Classification by phase

Multiphase reactors typically have more

than two phases present. The most
common type of multiphase reactor is a
gas-liquid-solid reactor; however, liquidliquid-solid reactors are also used. The
classification by phases will be used to
develop the contents of this section.

Classification by Phase

In addition, a reactor may perform a

function other than reaction alone.
Multifunctional reactors may provide
both reaction and mass transfer (e.g.,
reactive distillation, reactive
crystallization, reactive membranes, etc.),
or reaction and heat transfer.
This coupling of functions within the
reactor inevitably leads to additional
operating constraints on one or the other



It is the acceleration of chemical

reaction by means of substance
called catalyst.

Principles of

Typical mechanism:
A + C AC (1)
B + AC ABC (2)

Catalysis and
reaction energetic.

What is Phase?

Two Types of Catalyst:


the catalystsin the

same phase as the


Involves the use of a
catalyst in a different phase
from the reactants.

How the
heterogeneous catalyst



Active Sites



Is where something
sticks to a surface.

Active Sites

Is a part of the surface

which is particularly good
at adsorbing things and
helping them to react.


means that the

product molecules
break away.

Kinds of Catalyst

Strong Acids

Base Catalysis

Metal oxides, Sulfides, and

Metal and Alloys
Transition-metal Organometallic

Strong Acids

Is an acid that ionizes

completely in an
aqueous solution

Base Catalysis

Is most commonly thought of as an

aqueous substance that can accept
Base the chemical opposite of acids.
Often referred to as an alkali if OH
ions are involved.

Metal Oxides

Form a transition between

acid/base and metal

Metal and Alloy

Metal is a chemical elements whose

atoms readily lose electrons to form
positive ions (cations), and form metallic
bonds between other metal atoms and
ionic bonds between nonmetal atoms.
The principal industrial metallic catalyst,
are found in periodic group VII

Organometallic Catalysts

More effective
hydrogenation than are
metals such as platinum.

Fluid and Solid Catalysis

Multitubular reactors
Fluidized beds
Fixed Bed
Spray Tower
Two-Phase Flow

Multitubular reactors

These reactors are shelland-tube configuration and

have catalyst in the tubes.

Multi tubular Reactor

Fluidized Bed

Device that can be used to carry

out a variety of multiphase
chemical reactions.
A catalyst possibly shaped as tiny

Fluidized Bed Reactor

Fixed Bed

Fixed bed reactor is a

cylindrical tube, randomly
filled with catalyst particles,
which may be spheres or
cylindrical pellets.

Fixed Bed Reactor


Are a form of pollution control

Consist of empty cylindrical vessels
made of steel or plastic and nozzles
that spray liquid into the vessels

Two types of Spray Towers:

1.Cocurrent Flow
-are smaller than countercurrent-flow

spray towers

2.Crosscurrent Flow
- the gas and liquid flow in directions
perpendicular to each other.

Two-Phase Flow

occurs in a system containing

gas and liquid with a meniscus
separating the two phases.

Two-phase flow may be

classified according to the
phases involved as:

gas-solid mixture

gas-liquid mixture

liquid-solid mixture

two-immiscible-liquids mixture

Diesel Hydrotreator


Hydrotreating is an established refinery

process for reducing sulphur, nitrogen
and aromatics while enhancing cetane
number, density and smoke point. The
refining industrys efforts to meet the
global trend for more-stringent clean
fuels specifications, the growing demand
for transportation fuels and the shift
toward diesel mean that hydrotreating
has become an increasingly important