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Types Of Reactors

Types of Reactors
There are following different types of reactors:
1. Continuous stirred tank reactor.
2. Fixed bed reactor.
3. Tabular reactor.
4. Moving bed reactor.
5. Fluidized bed reactor.
There description is as follows:

1. Continuous stirred tank reactor

The continuous flow stirred-tank reactor (CSTR), also known as vat- or backmix reactor,
is a common ideal reactor type in chemical engineering. A CSTR often refers to a model used
to estimate the key unit operation variables when using a continuous agitated-tank reactor to
reach a specified output.
The behavior of a CSTR is often approximated or modeled by that of a Continuous
Ideally Stirred-Tank Reactor (CISTR). All calculations performed with CISTRs
assume perfect mixing. In a perfectly mixed reactor, the output composition is identical to
composition of the material inside the reactor, which is a function of residence time and rate
of reaction.
If the residence time is 5-10 times the mixing time, this approximation is valid for
engineering purposes. The CISTR model is often used to simplify engineering calculations
and can be used to describe research reactors. In practice it can only be approached, in
particular in industrial size reactors.

Types Of Reactors

In a continuous-flow stirred-tank reactor (CSTR), reactants and products are continuously

added and withdrawn. In practice, mechanical or hydraulic agitation is required to achieve
uniform composition and temperature, a choice strongly influenced by process
considerations. The CSTR is the idealized opposite of the well-stirred batch and tubular plug-
flow reactors. Analysis of selected combinations of these reactor types can be useful in
quantitatively evaluating more complex gas-, liquid-, and solid-flow behaviors.

(Continuous stirred tank reactors, (a) With agitator and internal heat transfer surface,
(b) With pump around mixing and external heat transfer surface).
Because the compositions of mixtures leaving a CSTR are those within the reactor,
the reaction driving forces, usually the reactant concentrations, are necessarily low.
Therefore, except for reaction orders zero- and negative, a CSTR requires the largest volume
of the reactor types to obtain desired conversions. However, the low driving force makes
possible better control of rapid exothermic and endothermic reactions.
When high conversions of reactants are needed, several CSTRs in series can be used.
Equally good results can be obtained by dividing a single vessel into compartments while
minimizing back-mixing and short-circuiting. The larger the number of CSTR stages, the
closer the performance approaches that of a tubular plug-flow reactor.
Continuous-flow stirred-tank reactors in series are simpler and easier to design for isothermal
operation than are tubular reactors. Reactions with narrow operating temperature ranges or
those requiring close control of reactant concentrations for optimum selectivity benefit from
series arrangements.
If severe heat-transfer requirements are imposed, heating or cooling zones can be
incorporated within or external to the CSTR. For example, impellers or centrally mounted
draft tubes circulate liquid upward, then downward through vertical heat-exchanger tubes. In
a similar fashion, reactor contents can be recycled through external heat exchangers.

Types Of Reactors

i. In industry, a packed column is a type of packed bed used to perform separation
processes, such as absorption, stripping, and distillation.
ii. A packed column is a pressure vessel that has a packed section. Columns used in
certain types of chromatography consisting of a tube filled with packing material can
also be called packed columns and their structure has similarities to packed beds. The
column can be filled with random dumped packing (creating a random packed
column) or with structured packing sections, which are arranged or stacked (creating
a stacked packed column).
iii. In the column, liquids tend to wet the surface of the packing and the vapors pass
across this wetted surface, where mass transfer takes place. Packing material can be
used instead of trays to improve separation in distillation columns.
iv. Packing offers the advantage of a lower pressure drop across the column (when
compared to plates or trays), which is beneficial while operating under vacuum.
v. Differently shaped packing materials have different surface areas and void space
between the packing. Both of these factors affect packing performance.

2. Packed bed reactors

Packed bed reactors can be used in chemical reaction. These reactors are tubular and are
filled with solid catalyst particles, most often used to catalyze gas reactions. The chemical
reaction takes place on the surface of the catalyst. The advantage of using a packed bed
reactor is the higher conversion per weight of catalyst than other catalytic reactors. The
conversion is based on the amount of the solid catalyst rather than the volume of the reactor.

Types Of Reactors

3. Tubular reactor or plug flow reactor

A tubular reactor is a vessel through which flow is continuous, usually at steady state,
and configured so that conversion of the chemicals and other dependent variables are
functions of position within the reactor rather than of time. In the ideal tubular reactor, the
fluids flow as if they were solid plugs or pistons, and reaction time is the same for all flowing
material at any given tube cross section. Tubular reactors resemble batch reactors in
providing initially high driving forces, which diminish as the reactions progress down the
Flow in tubular reactors can be laminar, as with viscous fluids in small-diameter
tubes, and greatly deviate from ideal plug-flow behavior, or turbulent, as with gases.
Turbulent flow generally is preferred to laminar flow, because mixing and heat transfer are
improved. For slow reactions and especially in small laboratory and pilot-plant reactors,
establishing turbulent flow can result in inconveniently long reactors or may require
unacceptably high feed rates.

Tubular reactors are always used in a continuous flow mode with reagents flowing in
and products being removed. They can be the simplest of all reactor designs. Tubular reactors
are often referred to by a variety of names:
Pipe reactors
Packed-bed reactors
Trickle-bed reactors
Bubble-column reactors
Ebulating-bed reactors
Single-phase flow in a tubular reactor can be upward or downward. Two-phase flow can
be co-current up-flow, counter-current (liquid down, gas up) or, most commonly, co-current

Types Of Reactors

Tubular reactors can have a single wall and be heated with an external furnace or they can
be jacketed for heating or cooling with a circulating heat transfer fluid. External furnaces can
be rigid, split-tube heaters or be flexible mantle heaters.

Tubular reactors are used in a variety of industries:
Petroleum, Petrochemical, Polymer. Pharmaceutical, Waste Treatment, Specialty
Chemical, Alternative Energy
Tubular reactors are used in a variety of applications:
Carbonylation, Dehydrogenation, Hydrogenation, Hydrocracking, Hydroformulation,
Oxidative decomposition, Partial oxidation, Polymerization, Reforming
It is often desirable to size a tubular reactor to be large enough to fit 8 to 10 catalyst
particles across the diameter and be at least 40-50 particle diameters long. The length to
diameter ratio can be varied to study the effect of catalyst loading by equipping the reactor
with spools to change this ratio.

4. Moving bed reactor

In manufacturing, the simulated moving bed (SMB) process is a highly engineered
process for implementing chromatographic separation. It is used to separate one chemical
compound or one class of chemical compounds from one or more other chemical
compounds to provide significant quantities of the purified or enriched material at a lower
cost than could be obtained using simple (batch) chromatography.
It cannot provide any separation or purification that cannot be done by a simple
column purification. The process is rather complicated. The single advantage which it brings
to a chromatographic purification is that it allows the production of large quantities of highly
purified material at a dramatically reduced cost. The cost reductions come about as a result
of: the use of a smaller amount of chromatographic separation media stationary phase, a
continuous and high rate of production, and decreased solvent and energy requirements. This
improved economic performance is brought about by a valve-and-column arrangement that is
used to lengthen the stationary phase indefinitely and allow very high solute loadings to the
In the conventional moving bed technique of production chromatography the feed
entry and the analyte recovery are simultaneous and continuous, but because of practical
difficulties with a continuously moving bed, simulated moving bed technique was proposed.
In the simulated moving bed technique instead of moving the bed, the feed inlet, the solvent
or eluent inlet and the desired product exit and undesired product exit positions are moved
continuously, giving the impression of a moving bed, with continuous flow of solid particles
and continuous flow of liquid in the opposite direction of the solid particles.
True moving bed chromatography (TMBC) is only a theoretical concept. Its
simulation, SMBC is achieved by the use of a multiplicity of columns in series and a complex

Types Of Reactors

valve arrangement, which provides for flow of the feed mixture and solvent, and "eluent" or
"desorbent" feed at any column. The valving and piping arrangements and the predetermined
control of these allow switching at regular intervals the sample entry in one direction, the
solvent entry in the same direction but at a different location in the continuous loop, whilst
changing the fast product and slow product takeoff positions to also move in the same
direction, but at different relative locations within the loop.

SMB provides lower production cost by requiring less column volume, less
chromatographic separation media ("packing" or "stationary phase"), using less solvent and
less energy, and requiring far less labor.
At industrial scale an SMB chromatographic separator is operated continuously,
requiring less resin and less solvent than batch chromatography. The continuous operation
facilitates operation control and integration into production plants. Low eluent consumption
High product concentration High productivity Continuous process This system is useful in
the supercritical fluid extraction to obtain large quantity of specific product.

In size exclusion chromatography, where the separation process is driven by entropy,
it is not possible to increase the resolution attained by a column via temperature or solvent
gradients. Consequently, these separations often require SMB, to create usable retention time
differences between the molecules or particles being resolved.
SMB is also very useful in the pharmaceutical industry, where resolution of molecules
having different chirality must be done on a very large scale. For the purification of fructose,
e.g. in high fructose corn syrup, or amino-acids, biological-acids, etc. on an industrial scale
simulated moving bed chromatography is used.

Types Of Reactors

5. Fluidized bed reactor

A fluidized bed reactor (FBR) is a type of reactor device that can be used to carry out a
variety of multiphase chemical reactions. In this type of reactor, a fluid (gas or liquid) is
passed through a solid granular material (usually a catalyst possibly shaped as tiny spheres) at
high enough velocities to suspend the solid and cause it to behave as though it were a fluid.
This process, known as fluidization, imparts many important advantages to the FBR. As a
result, the fluidized bed reactor is now used in many industrial applications.

Basic principles:
The solid substrate (the catalytic material upon which chemical species react) material
in the fluidized bed reactor is typically supported by a porous plate, known as a distributor.
The fluid is then forced through the distributor up through the solid material. At lower fluid
velocities, the solids remain in place as the fluid passes through the voids in the material. This
is known as a packed bed reactor.
As the fluid velocity is increased, the reactor will reach a stage where the force of the
fluid on the solids is enough to balance the weight of the solid material. This stage is known
as incipient fluidization and occurs at this minimum fluidization velocity. Once this minimum
velocity is surpassed, the contents of the reactor bed begin to expand and swirl around much
like an agitated tank or boiling pot of water. The reactor is now a fluidized bed. Depending on
the operating conditions and properties of solid phase various flow regimes can be observed
in this reactor.

The increase in fluidized bed reactor use in today's industrial world is largely due to
the inherent advantages of the technology.
Uniform Particle Mixing: Due to the intrinsic fluid-like behavior of the solid material,
fluidized beds do not experience poor mixing as in packed beds. This complete mixing allows
for a uniform product that can often be hard to achieve in other reactor designs. The
elimination of radial and axial concentration gradients also allows for better fluid-solid
contact, which is essential for reaction efficiency and quality.
Uniform Temperature Gradients: Many chemical reactions require the addition or
removal of heat. Local hot or cold spots within the reaction bed, often a problem in packed
beds, are avoided in a fluidized situation such as an FBR. In other reactor types, these local
temperature differences, especially hotspots, can result in product degradation. Thus FBRs
are well suited to exothermic reactions. Researchers have also learned that the bed-to-
surface heat transfer coefficients for FBRs are high.
Ability to Operate Reactor in Continuous State: The fluidized bed nature of these
reactors allows for the ability to continuously withdraw product and introduce new reactants
into the reaction vessel. Operating at a continuous process state allows manufacturers to
produce their various products more efficiently due to the removal of startup conditions
in batch processes.

Types Of Reactors

As in any design, the fluidized bed reactor does have it draw-backs, which any reactor
designer must take into consideration.
Increased Reactor Vessel Size: Because of the expansion of the bed materials in the
reactor, a larger vessel is often required than that for a packed bed reactor. This larger vessel
means that more must be spent on initial capital costs.
Pumping Requirements and Pressure Drop: The requirement for the fluid to suspend
the solid material necessitates that a higher fluid velocity is attained in the reactor. In order to
achieve this, more pumping power and thus higher energy costs are needed. In addition,
the pressure drop associated with deep beds also requires additional pumping power.
Particle Entrainment: The high gas velocities present in this style of reactor often result in
fine particles becoming entrained in the fluid. These captured particles are then carried out of
the reactor with the fluid, where they must be separated. This can be a very difficult and
expensive problem to address depending on the design and function of the reactor. This may
often continue to be a problem even with other entrainment reducing technologies.

Lack of Current Understanding: Current understanding of the actual behavior of the

materials in a fluidized bed is rather limited. It is very difficult to predict and calculate the
complex mass and heat flows within the bed. Due to this lack of understanding, a pilot
plant for new processes is required. Even with pilot plants, the scale-up can be very difficult
and may not reflect what was experienced in the pilot trial.
Erosion of Internal Components: The fluid-like behavior of the fine solid particles
within the bed eventually results in the wear of the reactor vessel. This can require expensive
maintenance and upkeep for the reaction vessel and pipes.
Pressure Loss Scenarios: If fluidization pressure is suddenly lost, the surface area of
the bed may be suddenly reduced. This can either be an inconvenience (e.g. making bed
restart difficult), or may have more serious implications, such as runaway reactions (e.g. for
exothermic reactions in which heat transfer is suddenly restricted).