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Int. J. Chem. React. Eng.

2015; aop

Sim Yee Chin*, Anwaruddin Hisyam and Haniif Prasetiawan

Modeling and Simulation Study of an Industrial

Radial Moving Bed Reactor for Propane
Dehydrogenation Process

DOI 10.1515/ijcre-2014-0148 of 5.7% since 1991 and it is expected to continue growing

at an average yearly rate of 3.8% from year 2005 until
Abstract: An accurate model is required to optimize the
2015(Wang, Xu, and Gao 2008; Lobera et al. 2008a;
propane dehydrogenation reaction carried out in the
Nexant 2012).
radial moving bed reactors (RMBR). The present study
The disparity of supply and demand for propylene
modeled the RMBR using a plug flow reactor model
has inspired the development of the on-purpose propy-
incorporated with kinetic models expressed in simple
lene production technologies such as olefin metathesis
power-law model. Catalyst activity and coke formation
and propane dehydrogenation. Currently, the on-purpose
were also considered. The model was solved numerically
production of propylene from propane is more econom-
by discretizing the RMBR in axial and radial directions.
ical than the other methods like naphtha cracking or
The optimized kinetic parameters were then used to pre-
other refinery processes due to the inexpensive price of
dict the trends of propane conversion, temperature, cat-
propane (Dooho 2013). Five licensed technologies are
alyst activity and coke content in the RMBR along axial
available for propane dehydrogenation. There are
and radial directions. It was found that the predicted
CATOFIN, Oleflex, Fluidized Bed Technology (FBD),
activation energies of the propane dehydrogenation, pro-
STAR Process and PDH from Linde/BASF. These technol-
pane cracking and ethylene hydrogenation were in rea-
ogies are different in terms of the type of catalyst, catalyst
sonable agreement with the experimental values reported
regeneration method, reactor design and operating con-
in the literature. The model developed has accurately
dition (Sanfilippo and Miracca 2006).
predicted the reaction temperature profile, conversion
Propane is mainly derived from the non-renewable nat-
profile and catalyst coke content. The deviations of
ural gas and petroleum resources. The continuous con-
these simulated results from the plant data were less
sumption of propane is depleting the natural gas and
than 5%.
petroleum supplies. The propylene productivity should be
Keywords: radial moving bed reactor, propane dehydro- maximized to sustain the propane dehydrogenation pro-
genation, simulation, modelling, kinetic cess. It can be done by increasing the production yield
under the optimum operating conditions such as pressure,
temperature and H2/HC ratio (Chin et al. 2011). The propy-
1 Introduction lene production industries who adopt the propane dehydro-
genation process require an accurate reactor model before
The growing consumption of propylene derivatives has the process is optimised to increase the productivity.
profoundly increased the propylene demand in recent Bijani and Sahebdelfar (2008) have developed a sim-
years. It has been increasing at an annual average rate ple model to predict the performance of a moving bed
reactor for isobutane dehydrogenation. The reactor was
assumed as a simple packed bed reactor. The predicted
*Corresponding author: Sim Yee Chin, Department of Chemical and
Natural Resources Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, conversion of the second reactor well matched with the
Lebuhraya Tun Razak, Gambang, 26300 Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia, plant data. However, the conversion of first reactor was
E-mail: underestimated while the conversion of third reactor was
Anwaruddin Hisyam, Department of Chemical and Natural Resources overrated. Sahebdelfar et al. (2011) used discretization
Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Lebuhraya Tun Razak,
method to model the radial moving bed reactors. The
Gambang, 26300 Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia
conversion, catalyst activity, and temperature profile
Haniif Prasetiawan, Chemical Engineering Department, Semarang
State University, Gd. E1 Kampus Sekaran Gunungpati, Semarang, were generated for the axial and radial directions of
Indonesia, 50229 the reactors. It was found that the error between the

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2 S. Y. Chin et al.: Simulation Study of an Industrial Moving Bed Reactor

simulated and actual reactor outlet temperature was The outlet product from first reactor is fed to the second
approximately 30%. Besides, the deviation of the simu- reactor. After passing through the four reactors in series,
lated total conversion from the plant data was approxi- the catalyst at the outlet of last reactor is sent to the
mately 25%.It was claimed that the error could be continuous catalyst regeneration unit. The catalyst is
reduced by increasing the calculation step number. then regenerated and recycled back to the first reactor
To date, the radial moving bed reactor modeling and for the next reaction cycle. The outlet temperature
simulation considering both the radial and axial varia- decreases since the process is highly endothermic. Inter-
tions for propane dehydrogenation was not reported in stage heaters are required to increase the inlet tempera-
the open literature. Chin et al. (2011) modelled the radial ture (Bijani and Sahebdelfar 2008; Gyngazova et al. 2011;
moving bed reactor by assuming it was plug flow reactor. Sahebdelfar et al. 2011; Farsi, Jahanmiri, and Rahimpour
The deviations of the predicted composition of H2, C2H4 2013).
and C2H6 from the plant data were 21%, 14% and 11%. It
was stated that these deviations may be attributed to the
omission of the variations of concentration, temperature 2.2 Plant data reconciliation
and reaction rate in the radial direction.
The aim of the present work is to model and simulate Industrial plant data was required to validate the model
a radial moving bed reactor for the propane dehydro- for propane dehydrogenation process. Thirteen sets of
genation considering both axial and radial variations. data were taken at different operating days. It consists
The industrial plant data was used to support the kinetic of inlet and outlet temperature, inlet and outlet pres-
parameter estimation and model validation. sure, inlet and inter-stage gas composition. Among
these data, only four sets of data were used to optimize
the reaction kinetic parameters due to its consistent
inter-stage gas composition. This data was obtained at
2 Model development and data different reactor operating conditions, which were
validation methodology denoted as Case 1, 2, 3 and 4. All the operating condi-
tions are given in range in Table 1 due to the confidenti-
ality of the plant data.
2.1 Radial moving bed reactor model

The commercial radial moving bed reactor for propane Table 1: Operating conditions of the reactor.
dehydrogenation consists of a series of four reactors as
shown in Figure 1. The reactor comprises two perforated Variable Value

coaxial cylinders to retain the catalysts. The feed gas Hydrogen to hydrocarbon molar ratio, H/HC .–.
enters from the bottom of first reactor and crosses (mole/mole)
radially through the catalyst bed that moves slowly *WAIT, °C –
downwards through the reactor by gravitational force. Inlet pressure, Pin (kPaG) –
The catalyst from the first reactor is then collected in Note: *WAIT is the weighted average inlet temperature; the integrated
the catalyst collector and lifted to the second reactor. temperature calculated using the inlet temperature of each reactor.

R-01 R-02 R-03 R-04

CCR Unit


= Catalyst line
= Gas Process line
R = Reactor
H = Heater

FeedGas Deactivated Figure 1: Schematic diagram of the

Catalyst commercial propane dehydrogenation
H-01 H-02 H-03 H-04 process.

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2.3 Mass balance Where CpA is the heat capacity of component A, ΔHRx, n, T
is the heat of reaction for reaction n at certain tempera-
Mass balance equations for radial moving bed reactor ture (T) and TRef is the reference temperature, 25°C. Data
were governed based on the incremental volume of for calculating the heat capacity and heat of reaction are
ring-shaped reactor bed as shown in Figure 2. These taken from Yaws (1999).
equations were shown in eqs (1) and (2).

− dFA + rn′ dW = 0 (1) 2.5 Kinetic model

= rn′ (2) 2.5.1 Propane dehydrogenation

Propane dehydrogenation as shown in eq. (6) is known as

an endothermic equilibrium limited reaction. The ele-
vated temperatures and low pressures favor the forward
reaction and hence increasing the yield of propylene. It is
usually carried out at 600–650 °C under the pressure
(gauge) of 15–250 kPa in the presence of metal catalyst
such as platinum based catalyst.

C3 H8 $ C3 H6 + H2 (6)

Where, k1 is the rate constant for forward reaction while

k − 1 is the rate constant for backward reaction.
Larsson, Henriksson, and Andersson (1998) found
that the power-law model gave the best fit to the experi-
mental data comparing to the other kinetic models for
propane dehydrogenation over Pt-Sn/Al2O3. To account
Figure 2: Volume increment of catalyst bed. the catalyst deactivation, the reaction rate for propane
dehydrogenation is shown in eq. (7)
Where FA is molar flow rate of the components  
ðA = C3 H8 , C3 H6 , C2 H6 , C2 H4 , H2 Þ, W is the weight of cata- − r1 = ak1 PC3 H8 − ak − 1 PC3 H6 PH2 = ak1 PC3 H8 − 3 6 2
lyst and rn′ is the rate of disappearance of reactant in
reaction nðn = 1, 2, 3, 4Þ. Incremental weight of catalyst
ðdW Þ can be described using volume elements as eq. Where, a is the catalyst activity, r1 is the reaction rate of
  propane dehydrogenation and PA is the partial pressure
dW = ρb .d π.r2 .z (3) of component A. Keq is the reaction equilibrium constant
Where ρb is the bulk density of catalyst, dr and dz are the for propane dehydrogenation and it can be written as a
elemental radius and height of RMBR respectively. function of temperature as shown in eq. (8).

Keq = expð20.5596 − 14.278=T ÞkPa (8)

2.4 Energy balance

The energy balance in the incremental volume of catalyst bed 2.5.2 Side reactions
can be written as eq. (4) and it can be simplified as eq. (5).
X   X   Beside propane dehydrogenation, the elevated tempera-
FA CpA T − TRef jW − FA CpA T − TRef jW + ΔW
  (4) ture in this process also promotes side reactions such
+ ðΔHRx, T Þ − rn′ ΔW = 0 propane cracking and hydrogenolysis. The propane is
  cracked into methane and ethylene as a result of catalytic
dT ðΔHRx, n, T Þ − rn′
= P (5) cracking on the catalyst surface. Meanwhile, the propane
dW FA Cpa
is reacted with hydrogen to produce methane and ethane

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4 S. Y. Chin et al.: Simulation Study of an Industrial Moving Bed Reactor

through the hydrogenolysis reaction. Ethylene is then Kads = KA0 expð − ΔHA =RT Þ (18)
further hydrogenated to produce ethane (Chin et al.
Where ka0 and Ka0 are the exponential factor for kinetic
2011; Farjoo et al. 2011; Li et al. 2011; Sahebdelfar et al.
reaction and adsorption equilibrium constant, Ea is the
2012; Farsi, Jahanmiri, and Rahimpour 2013).
activation energy and ΔHa is the heat of adsorption.
The side reactions occurred during propane dehydro-
genation are described in eqs (9)–(10):
C3 H8 ! CH4 + C2 H4 (9)
2.6 Numerical solution
C2 H4 + H2 ! C2 H6 (10) In the present study, the catalyst bed is discretized into a
number of ring shapes at axial and radial directions. The
The rate equations for the proposed side reactions are discretized catalyst bed can be seen in Figure 3. The
shown in eqs (11)–(12). weight of discretized bed can be calculated using eq. (19).
− r2 = k2 PC3 H8 (11) W.Δz.Δr.½2R1 − ð2j − 1Þ.Δr
ΔWi, j =   (19)
− r3 = k3 PC2 H4 PH2 (12) h. R22 − R21

Where k2 and k3 are the kinetic constants for propane

cracking and ethylene hydrogenation correspondingly.

2.5.3 Coke formation

Coke is mainly formed through the deep dehydrogena-

tion, condensation, polymerization, and cyclization of
hydrogen-deficient hydrocarbon species on the surface
of the catalyst (Sahoo et al. 2003; Li et al. 2011). The (a) (b)
coke precursors are normally aromatics and olefins parti-
cularly propylene in propane dehydrogenation reaction Figure 3: Illustration of (a) Full shape of catalyst bed (b) discretized
catalyst bed.
(Li et al. 2011). The mechanisms are shown in eqs (13)
and (14).

C3 H8 ! 3C + 4H2 (13) Where, i and j are the number of elements in the axial
and radial directions respectively. R1 and R2 are the bed
nC3 H6 ! 3nCH0.5 + 2.25nH2 (14)
inner and outer radius, h is the height of catalyst bed, Δr
The coking rate on catalyst surface can be represented and Δz are the elemental ring thickness and the height of
by eq. (15). ring respectively.
Equations (2), (5) and (15) for mass balance, energy
da kc PC3 H6
− = a (15) balance and catalyst activity were discretized to eqs
dt Cm ð1 + Kads PH2 Þ
(20)–(22) before it was solved numerically to simulate
Where Cm is the total concentration of the active sites, the RMBR.
kc is the coking rate constant and Kads is the adsorption

equilibrium constants. Once the catalyst activity was FAji, j + 1 = FAji, j + ΔWi, j rnji, j (20)
obtained, coke formation can be calculated using eq. (16):   ′ 
ðΔHRx, n, T Þ − rn
Cc = Cm ð1 − aÞ (16) Ti, j + 1 = Ti, j + 1 + ΔWi, j P (21)
FA CpA i, j
Where, Cc is the concentration of the active sites occupied   
kd PC3 H8 ai, j W
by the coke. ai + 1, j = ai, j − (22)
1 + Kads PH2 Us
The kinetic rate constants and adsorption equilibrium
constants in this work were estimated based on Arrhenius
The boundary conditions adopted are:
and van’t Hoff equations as shown in eqs. (17)–(18):
at z = 0, að1st reactorÞ = 1
kA = kA0 expð − EA =RT Þ (17) at r = 0, F = Fin ;T = Tin

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S. Y. Chin et al.: Simulation Study of an Industrial Moving Bed Reactor 5

The calculation was started at the uppermost ring, Table 2: Kinetic constants of the proposed kinetic models.
from the inner radius to the outer radius, considering that
the feed gas entered the reactor from inner radius of the Parameter Value Unit
bed and the catalyst moved from top to bottom of the k1 k01 = 13.920 kmol/(
reactor. The inlet temperature of the first ring was used to E1 = 31.978 kJ/mol
calculate the reaction rate and outlet composition using k2 k02 = 1.573e6 kmol/(
eqs (7), (11)–(12), (17) and (20). The outlet temperature of E2 = 141.94 kJ/mol
k3 k03 = 3.3965 kmol/()
the first ring became the inlet temperature for the second
E3 = 149.41 kJ/mol
ring at the same row. It was calculated based on outlet
kd k0d = 1.097e-1 (−
composition at each ring using eq. (21). Catalyst activity Ed = 146.21 kJ/mol
for the first row was calculated based on the outlet tem- Kads K0ads = 5.553e-2 atm−
perature at each ring using eq. (22). These procedures ΔHads = 91.798 kJ/mol
were then repeated for the entire rings in the first row Cm = . g active site/g catalyst

and other rows of the catalyst bed. The calculation ended

at the lowest row of catalyst bed. Final outlet temperature
and composition values were obtained from the average of the major components in the reactor outlet with the
value at the outer radius. The catalyst activity value was plant data. Table 2 shows all the values of the reaction
obtained from the average catalyst activity at the lowest kinetic parameters. As shown in Table 3, the predicted
ring of the catalyst bed. activation energies of the propane dehydrogenation and
The differential equations in this paper were solved side reactions in this work are comparable with the experi-
using ode45 in MATLAB which adopting the forth order mental data reported in the literature. These kinetic data
of runge-kutta method. fminsearch in MATLAB was used were used for the simulation in the subsequent sections.
to solve to optimise the kinetic parameters. Equation (23) The corresponding parity plots for the mole fractions
shows the objective function for the kinetic parameter of propane, propylene and hydrogen (components in the
optimisation (Agarwal and Stenger 2007). main reaction) and the mole fractions of methane, ethane
and ethylene (products of the side reactions) are shown
X 2
min = FA, data − FA, predicted (23) in Figure 4. Ideally, the data points should lie on the y = x
line (shown in solid line). The propane dehydrogenation
Where FA, data and FA, predicted are the plant data and pre- process in a RMBR is well described by the estimated
dicted molar flow rate of component A. kinetic parameters since most of the data points of all
components except C2H4 are within the marginal error
lines of 20%. The C2H4 outlet composition is not accu-
rately predicted due to its very low absolute value com-
3 Results and discussion pared to the other components. It is more susceptible to
the errors during the plant data reconciliation phase. The
3.1 Kinetic parameter estimation model adequacy also can be supported by the fairly ran-
dom and trendless distribution of the residual values
Kinetic parameters required for eqs (7), (11), (12) and (15) between plant data and predicted composition as shown
were obtained by comparing the simulated mole fractions in Figure 5 (Montgomery 2008).

Table 3: Comparison of the predicted and the experimental activation energies.

Sources Activation Energies (kJ/mol)

Main Rx  Side Rx
nd Side Rx
eq. () eq. () eq. ()

Larsson, Henriksson, and Andersson () . ± . – –

Gascón et al. () . ± .  ± . –
Lobera et al. (b) . ± . . ± . . ± .
Li et al. () . ± . . ± . –
Present Study . . .

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55 5.0

CH4 predicted mole fraction, %

H2 predicted mole fraction, %



Mole fraction CH4
Mole fraction H2
35 2.5
35 40 45 50 55 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0
H2 plant data mole fraction, % CH2 plant data mole fraction, %
(a) (b)
2.0 0.3
C2H6 predicted mole fraction, %

C2H4 predicted mole fraction, %

1.5 0.2

1.0 0.1

Mole fraction C2H6 Mole fraction C2H4

0.5 0.0
0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3
C2H6 plant data mole fraction, % C2H4 plant data mole fraction, %
(c) (d)
50 20
C3H8 predicted mole fraction, %

C3H6 predicted mole fraction, %




Mole fraction C3H8 Mole fraction C3H6

25 0
25 30 35 40 45 50 0 5 10 15 20
C3H8 plant data mole fraction, % C3H6 plant data mole fraction, %
(e) (f)

Figure 4: Parity plot of the plant and model predicted mole fractions of (a) hydrogen; (b) methane; (c) ethane; (d) ethylene; (e) propane and
(f) propylene.

The resultant propane conversion and selectivity were the observed plant data. The root mean square deviations
calculated and compared with the plant data as shown for propane conversion and selectivity are 0.55 and 1.5
in Table 4. It can be seen that the predicted propane respectively, demonstrating the accuracy of the consid-
conversion and selectivity have good agreement with ered model and assumptions.

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S. Y. Chin et al.: Simulation Study of an Industrial Moving Bed Reactor 7

0.1 0.006
Hydrogen Methane
Residual (data - predicted)


Residual (data - predicted)


0.02 2E- 18
2 3 4 5
35 40 45 50 55 –0.002

–0.04 –0.004

Mole fraction plant data, % –0.006
Mole fraction plant data, %
(a) (b)
0.003 0.00050
Ethane Ethylene
Residual (data - predicted)

Residual (data - predicted)


0 0.00000
0.5 1 1.5 2 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20

–0.003 –0.00050
Mole fraction plant data, % Mole fraction plant data, %
(c) (d)
0.05 0.03
0.04 Propylene
Residual (data - predicted)
Residual (data- predicted)

0 0
5 7 9 11 13 15
–0.01 30 35 40 45 50

–0.03 –0.02

–0.05 –0.03
Mole fraction plant data, % Mole fraction plant data, %

(e) (f)

Figure 5: Residual curve for (a) hydrogen; (b) methane; (c) ethane; (d) ethylene; (e) propane and (f) propylene.

3.2 Simulation results H2/HC was ± 0.7. The propane conversion profiles at axial
and radial directions for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th reactor
3.2.1 Propane conversion along radial and axial are shown in Figure 6.
directions Propane conversion increases significantly in the
radial direction because the gas flows radially. On the
The kinetic data obtained in the previous section was other hand, propane conversion slightly decreases along
adopted in the subsequent simulation studies. The the axial direction due the reduction in the catalyst activ-
WAIT of the radial moving bed reactor was ± 641°C and ity as it flows downward. The predicted conversion for 1st,

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Table 4: Comparison of simulated propane conversion and 45

selectivity with the industrial plant data. Simulated Propane
35 Equilibrium Line

Propane Conversion, %
Plant data Model (125 kPa)
Propane conversion (%) Case  . . 25
Case  . .
Case  . .
Case  . . 15

Selectivity (%) Case  . . 10

Case  . . 5
Case  . .
Case  . . 500 550 600 650 700

2nd, 3rd, and 4th reactor were 15.032 %, 11.604 %, 7.696% Figure 7: Comparison of the equilibrium conversion with the
and 4.495% with the total conversion 33.8%. Deviations simulated conversion.
of the propane conversion for each reactor compared to
the plant data were 3.72%, 1.58%, 0.834% and 3.595%. Zangeneh et al. (2013). The catalyst activity decreased as
The decrease of propane conversion along the reactor it flowed through the reactors in series. Moreover, Figure 7
series in the present study can be analogous to the shows that the sensitivity of the equilibrium constant and
decrease of propane conversion with time as reported conversion to the temperature change is lower when its
by Kaneko et al. (2009), Sahebdelfar et al. (2012) and value is getting higher (Caspary et al. 1997).

18 15
z/L = 0 z/L = 0
Propane conversion, %mol

z/L = 1/3 z/L = 1/3

Propane conversion, %mol

z/L = 2/3 z/L = 2/3
z/L = 1 9 z/L = 1


0 0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
Radial Position, (r-R1)/(R2-R1) Radial Position, (r-R1)/(R2-R1)
(a) (b)
10 8
z/L = 0 z/L = 0
Propane conversion, %mol
Propane conversion, %mol

8 z/L = 1/3 z/L = 1/3

z/L = 2/3 z/L = 2/3
6 z/L = 1
z/L = 1


0 0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
Radial Position, (r-R1)/(R2-R1) Radial Position, (r-R1)/(R2-R1)
(c) (d)
Figure 6: Propane conversion profile along the radial and axial directions for (a) 1st reactor; (b) 2nd reactor; (c) 3rd reactor and (d) 4th reactor.

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3.2.2 Temperature profile along radial and axial decay as the catalyst flows along this direction.
directions Comparing to the plant data, the deviations of the pre-
dicted outlet temperature from the plant data of the 1st,
In the experimental study of propane dehydrogenation, 2nd, 3rd and 4th reactors are 3.41%, 4.44%, 3.87% and
the reactors were usually assumed to be an isothermal 2.08% respectively.
reactor under an average temperature (Praserthdam,
Grisdanurak, and Yuangsawatdikul 2000; Lobera et al.
2008b; Bijani and Sahebdelfar 2008; Farjoo et al. 2011). 3.2.3 Coke formation along radial and axial direction
The temperature gradient in both radial and axial direc-
tions can be obtained using process model considering Figure 9 shows the coke content of the catalyst at the
both of these directions. Figure 8 shows the temperature reactor in radial and axial directions. In the radial direc-
profile at different bed depth and radial distances. The tion, coke content at the inner radius is higher than the
trend of the temperature profiles in radial and axial direc- outer radius due to its higher temperature that promotes
tions are similar with the temperature profile of the coke formation through cracking. The endothermic reac-
endothermic isobutane dehydrogenation in a RMBR as tion occurred radially has caused the temperature drop at
predicted by Sahebdelfar et al. (2011). The temperature the outer radius. Similarly, the coke content increases
profile in radial direction declines along the flow direc- when the catalyst flows from the top to bottom of the
tion due to the highly endothermic reaction. The tem- reactor. More coke is deposited on the catalyst as it
perature difference between inner wall and outer wall moves downward because of the longer catalyst resi-
drops along the axial direction because of the catalyst dence time. The longer catalyst residence time also has

630 660

Reactor temperature, °C

Reactor temperature, °C


z/L = 0 600 z/L = 0

590 z/L = 1/3 z/L = 1/3
z/L = 2/3 580 z/L = 2/3
z/L = 1 z/L = 1

570 560
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
Radial Position, (r-R1)/(R2-R1) Radial Position, (r-R1)/(R2-R1)
(a) (b)
650 650

Reactor temperature, °C

Reactor temperature, °C


z/L = 0
620 z/L = 0
z/L = 1/3
z/L = 1/3
z/L = 2/3 620 z/L = 2/3
z/L = 1 z/L = 1

600 610
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
Radial Position, (r-R1)/(R2-R1) Radial Position, (r-R1)/(R2-R1)
(c) (d)

Figure 8. Reactor temperature profile along the radial and axial directions of (a) 1st reactor; (b) 2nd reactor; (c) 3rd reactor
and (d) 4th reactor.

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10 S. Y. Chin et al.: Simulation Study of an Industrial Moving Bed Reactor

2 3.2
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) =0 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 0
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1/3 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1/3
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 2/3 2.8
1.5 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 2/3
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) =1
Coke Content, wt%

Coke Content, wt%

(r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1


0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
Axial Position, z/L Axial Position, z/L
(a) (b)
3.8 4.4
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) =0 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) =0
3.6 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1/3 4.2 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1/3
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 2/3 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 2/3
3.4 Coke Content, wt% (r-R1)/(R2-R1) =1
Coke Content, wt%

(r-R1)/(R2-R1) =1 4 Plant data


2.4 3.2
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
Axial Position, z/L Axial Position, z/L
(c) (d)
Figure 9: Coke content on the catalyst active site along the radial and axial directions of (a) 1st reactor; (b) 2nd reactor; (c) 3rd reactor
and (d) 4th reactor.

caused an increase in coke content along the reactor constants were optimised before it was used to simulate
series. the propane conversion, reactor outlet temperature, coke
The coke contents at the outlet of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th formation and the corresponding catalyst activity in the
reactor are found to be 1.32%, 2.49%, 3.33% and 3.98% radial and axial directions of all reactors.
respectively. The coke content at the outlet of the last It was found that the predicted activation energies of
reactor well matches with coke content measured from the propane dehydrogenation (31.978 kJ/mol), propane
the plant. The corresponding catalyst activity profiles are cracking (141.94 kJ/mol) and ethylene hydrogenation
shown in Figure 10. Lower catalyst activity is attributed to (149.41 kJ/mol) were in reasonable agreement with the
the higher coke content. The catalyst activities at the experimental values reported in the literature. The model
reactor outlets of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th reactor are validity check using the parity plot and residual analysis
0.758, 0.543, 0.39 and 0.267 respectively. of the component compositions concluded the adequacy
of the model.
The model developed has accurately predicted the
4 Conclusion reaction temperature profile, conversion profile and cat-
alyst coke content. The corresponding catalyst activity
The present study aimed to develop and validate a first after the 4th reactor in the series was 0.267. The model
principal model for propane dehydrogenation catalysed can be further used to optimise the process for obtaining
by platinum on alumina in a RMBR. The reaction kinetic higher production yield.

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S. Y. Chin et al.: Simulation Study of an Industrial Moving Bed Reactor 11

1 0.8

0.95 0.75

0.9 0.7

Catalyst Activity
Catalyst Activity

0.85 0.65

0.8 0.6

0.75 0.55
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) =0 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 0
0.7 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1/3 0.5 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1/3
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 2/3 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 2/3
0.65 0.45
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) =1 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1
0.6 0.4
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
Axial Position, z/L Axial Position, z/L

(a) (b)
0.55 0.4

Catalyst Activity

Catalyst Activity

(r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 0 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) =0
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1/3 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1/3
0.35 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 2/3 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 2/3
(r-R1)/(R2-R1) = 1 (r-R1)/(R2-R1) =1
0.3 0.2
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
Axial Position, z/L Axial Position, z/L
(c) (d)
Figure 10: Catalyst activity along the radial and axial directions of (a) 1st reactor; (b) 2nd reactor; (c) 3rd reactor and (d) 4th reactor.

Acknowledgements: The authors would like to acknowl- R1 Bed inner radius, m

edge MOE for the financial support under Knowledge R2 Bed outer radius, m
rn′ Rate of disappearance of reactant in reaction n, kmol/
Transfer Program project, RDU 121001.
(kg. hr)
TRef Reference temperature, K
W Weight of catalyst, kg
ΔHRx, n, T
List of Symbols Δr
Heat of reaction for reaction n at certain temperature (T )
Elemental ring thickness
Δz Elemental height thickness
CpA Heat capacity of componentA
ρb Bulk density of catalyst, kg/m3
FA Molar flow rate of component A, kmol/hr
h height of catalyst bed, m
i Number of elements in the axial
j Number of elements in the radial References
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12 S. Y. Chin et al.: Simulation Study of an Industrial Moving Bed Reactor

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