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Batch Reactor

The common type of batch reactors used in industrial activities are usually batch
stirred tank reactor. Batch stirred tank reactor is a tank that contain a stirrer system
within it for stirring of reactants to ensure the reactants added into the reactor are
well-mixed. (FOGLER, 2011)The stirrer system of the batch stirred tank reactor
composed of an internal impellers and baffles .Batch reactor usually has ports for
injection of reactants into the reactor or discharge of products. While batch reactor
usually has fixed volume, it might be designed to able to maintain a constant pressure
or temperature based on its application. Temperature of the reactor is regulated by the
cooling system built in the reactor. A cooling system consists of cooling jacket as well
as cooling pipes. (Clements, 2010)

It is a closed system that operated at non-steady state. It is working under the batch
operation which the reactants are added at the initial stage. The reactants added are
well-mixed and allowed to react for a predetermined amount of time. The products are
discharged at the completion of the reaction and a new batch will be continued later.
(Walas, 1990)

Batch reactor is usually applied for small-scale production, testing of new processes
which are still under development phase and for processes which required long
reaction time and high selectivity. Batch reactor is commonly used for the industrial
production of food or beverage that involving fermentation process or waste water
treatment. (Hatzikioseyian, Artin; Remoundaki, Emmanouela;National Technical
University of Athens, n.d.)

Although high conversion rate can be achieved by using batch reactor, it is not
suitable for large scale manufacturing due to long reaction time. As its time of
completion is longer than other types of reactors, it requires higher operating cost and
labour cost. A batch reactor has higher flexibility than other types of reactors as the
same reactor can be used for another productions once current batch is completed.
However, the quality of product produced by the batch reactor varies from batch to
batch compared to other reactors with continuous operation. Batch reactor is also easy
to clean. (Nanda , 2008)

Continuous Stirred Tank Reactor

A continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) is also known as back mix reactor. It is
consist of a tank with a stirring system within the tank and with a cooling jacket on
the outer surface. Similar to batch stirred tank reactor, the stirring system of CSTR is
composed of an internal impeller and baffles which able to generate internal agitation
to ensure the reactants added into the CSTR are vigorously stirred and mixed well.
Perfect mixing is essential for CSTR as this is able to ensure that the composition and
properties of the mixture are identical thoroughly. Ports are available for the reactor
for injection of feed, removal of product or the recovery of the reactants effluents.
(FOGLER, 2011) (Clements, 2010)

It is an open system that usually operating at steady state which the condition in the
reactor remain unchanged from time to time. It is assumed to be operated at steady
state and be prefect mixed, which there is no dependency on time or other factors like
temperature, concentration or reaction rate as they are assumed to be constant and
identical everywhere within the reactor tank. (Kaplan, Plegue, Catalano, & Wozniak,
2012)The flow rate of the feed into the reactor must be equal to the flow rate out to
prevent the tank from be empty or overflow. Residence time in the reactor can be
adjusted by controlling the flow rate of reactants to the reactor. A continuous stirred
tank reactor is normally used for fluid reaction in industrial production and it is the
most commonly used reactor in industrial production that involving homogenous and
heterogeneous liquid-liquid or liquid-gas phase flow reaction, which regular agitation
is necessary. CSTRs are widely used in industrial application like waste water
treatment or as a fermenters in biological processes such as brewing, fermentation,
antibiotic and etc. (Walas, 1990)

Multiple continuous stirred tank reactors are able to be arranged in series or in parallel
to increase the conversion rate of reaction and the effectiveness of the production.
Besides, it is generally larger than other type of reactors in order to achieve targeted
conversion rate due to its low driving force. This is because low driving force
provided the users better control of exothermic or endothermic reaction. (Robert H.
Perry;Don W. Green;James O. Maloney, 1997)

A continuous stirred tank reactor is cheap and easy to build. It required low operating
and labour cost to maintain its operation compared to other types of reactors. Besides,
it is able to support continuous operation and it is easily adapt to two phase reaction.
Therefore CSTR is able to be applied in large scale production which is essential in
todays industrial development. However, the conversion rate of the reactants to
product is relatively low compared to other reactors.

Packed Bed Reactor

A packed bed reactor is also known as fixed bed reactor. It is a tubular reactor which
has a vessel that filled with a mass of small solid, which is usually a heterogeneous
catalyst which able to increase the rate of reaction of the reactants added in by
increasing the total surface area of the reactants (Walas, 1990). Packed bed reactors
are usually a vertical cylindrical vessel with convex heads. They are designed to be
vertical in order to allow reactants to flow by gravity. The catalyst within the packed
bed reactor are column packed to promote heat transfer. Packed bed reactors
are usually used for production involving heterogeneous reaction. Feed enter the
reactor from the port on top, then flow through packed bed of catalyst. Reaction
occurred when the reactants contacted with the catalyst particle and formed product.
The product is then exit the reactor through the port at the bottom. The lifespan of the
catalyst must be considerate during the designation of the packed bed reactor as this
will influence the duration of bed of catalyst and thus the lasting time of reactor
before the catalyst needs to be regenerated. (Clements, 2010)

Catalyst within the reactor are usually granular particle, with diameters from 1 - 5
mm. They can be filled into the reactor in few ways: as a single bed, separate shells,
or in tubes. Catalysts are generally made from nickel, copper, osmium, platinum, and
rhodium based on its function and application. Size of industrial packed bed catalytic
reactors varies from small tubes with a diameter few centimetres to large diameter
packed beds. Packed-bed reactors are used for gas and gas-liquid reactions.
(Clements, 2010) (Kaplan, Plegue, Catalano, & Wozniak, 2012)

As mentioned, packed bed reactor is used for catalytic reaction as well as in industry.
For example, Vanadium (V) oxide is used as catalyst during the manufacturing of
sulfuric acid (Contact process) while iron is used as catalyst during the manufacturing
of nitric acid (Ostwald process) and the manufacturing of ammonia (Haber process).
(Clements, 2010)

A packed bed reactor required low operating and labour cost. It needs low capital cost
to build it.Besides, it has a relatively high conversion per unit mass compared to other
types of reactors due to increased reactants and catalyst contact. Moreover, it is able
to operate efficiently at high temperature and pressure. Although it is able to work
optimally at high temperature, it has poor thermal control which will lead to
deterioration of catalyst within the reactor. As one of the continuous reactors, a
packed bed reactor is able to operate continuously which is beneficial for mass
production. However, channelling of reactants might occur which will leading to
ineffective reaction region that will affect the overall reaction in the reactor. Other
than that, the packed bed reactor unit is difficult to clean and service. (Hatzikioseyian,
Artin; Remoundaki, Emmanouela;National Technical University of Athens, n.d.)
Fluidized Bed Catalytic Reactor

A fluidized bed catalytic reactor (FBR) is a fusion of packed-bed and continuous

stirred tank reactor. It is a heterogeneous catalytic reactors which the mass of catalyst
is fluidized which enable effective mixing throughout the reactor. A fluidized bed
catalytic reactor has the ability of handling large amount of reactants and catalysts.
Catalysts used in the FBR are usually granular particles which is about the size of a
grain of sand. They will stay on the distributor plate before the reactor started,
forming a bed of catalysts. (Walas, 1990)

At the beginning, the fluid reactants are then pumped into the reactor through the
distributor plate continuously and the bed of catalysts become fluidized. The pattern
of the bed is depend on the activities of the reactants flow. If bed expands uniformly
with increased upward flow of the fluid reactants, this is called homogenous
fluidization. At lower velocity, the catalyst will remain in place as the fluid passed
through the empty spaces in the catalysts. With the increment of fluid velocity, the
reactor will reached a stage which the force of the fluid acted on the catalyst bed will
be enough to balance the weight of the catalyst bed. This stage is known as incipient
fluidization which occurred at minimum fluidization velocity. Once this minimum
velocity is exceeded, the contents in the reactor will begin to swirl around. The
fluidization of the bed of catalyst will be in tubular form due to the increaseof velocity
of the flow. This encourages good mass and heat transfer rates and ensure quality
mixing between the gaseous molecules and the catalyst. (FOGLER, 2011)

In industrial sector, fluidized bed reactor in used in the catalytic cracking of

petroleum industry. They are also used in the oxidation of naphthalene to phthalic
anhydride, roasting of sulphide ores, coking of petroleum residues, and the calcination
of limestone. They are often involved when large amounts of heat input or output is
required, or when closely controlled temperatures are required. (Kaplan, Plegue,
Catalano, & Wozniak, 2012) . One of the application of the FBR is the
oxychlorination of ethene to chloroethene which used copper (II) chloride and
potassium chloride deposited on alumina as catalyst.

Compared to others, a fluidized bed reactor has several advantages. It is able to ensure
uniform particle mixing and temperature within the reactor which will increase the
effectiveness of the reaction. Besides, it allows continuous and automatic operation.
The catalyst can be replace continuously through an auxiliary loop without
interrupting the process. However, a fluidized bed reactor required high operating cost
and maintaining fee. Other than that, erosion of reactor wall might occurred during
the reaction due to the impact of the catalysts against the wall. The catalysts might
break up during the agitation. Pumping system is required for the FBR due to the
large pressure drop in the reactor and the size of the reactor vessel is usually large so
that the fluid flowrate is sufficient to suspend the catalytic pellets. (Walas, 1990)
Comparison between the Industrial Reactor
Type of Batch stirred Continuous Packed Bed Fluidized
reactor tank reactor stirred tank reactor catalytic bed
reactor reactor
Operating -Batch process -Continuous -Continuous -Continuous
mode -Non-steady process Process process
flow -steady flow -Steady flow -Steady flow

Operating and -High labour -Low labour -Low labour -High

Labour Cost and operating and operating and operating operating and
cost cost cost labour cost
Construction -Cheap and -Cheap and -Cheap and -Required
Cost easy to build easy to build easy to build high capital
cost to build
Size of the -N/A -Large (Due to -N/A -Large (To
reactor vessel (Based on low stirring (Based on enable the
application) force within application) fluid flowrate
the reactor) to suspend the
Ease Of -Relatively -Easy -Complex -Relative easy
Operation complex (Due to poor
(Due to thermal
unsteady-state control and
operation) channelling of
Advantages -High -Suitable for -High -High
conversion mass conversion conversion
rate per unit production rate per unit rate per unit
mass -Easily adapt mass mass
-Easy to clean for two phase -Good thermal -Uniform
-High reaction transfer particle
flexibility -Good thermal -Suitable for mixing
and pressure mass
control production
-Easy to clean
Disadvantages -Not suitable -Low -Poor -Large
for large scale conversion per temperature pressure drop
production unit mass control -Erosion of
-Quality of -Channelling internal of
product may may occur reactor may
change from -Difficult to occur
batch to batch clean -Catalysts
might break
up due to
impact on
inner wall of

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