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Fluidized Bed


IOI Chemical Sdn. Bhd.

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General Information
Fluidized bed reactors are heterogeneous catalytic reactors in
which the mass of catalyst is fluidized. This allows for extensive
mixing in all directions. A result of the mixing is excellent
temperature stability and increased mass-transfer and reaction
Fluidized bed reactors are capable of handling large amounts of
feed and catalyst. Pictured below is an FBR used for treating
aniline-and nitrobenzene-contaminated wastewater.

How does it work?

The solid substrate (the catalytic material

upon which chemical species react)
material in the fluidized bed reactor is
typically supported by aporousplate,
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.
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.
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.

Equipment Design
Before the reactor is started the catalyst pellets lie on a
grate at the bottom of the reactor. Reactants are
pumped into the reactor through a distributor
continuously, causing the bed to become fluidized. The
bed's behavior after initial fluidization depends on the
state of the reactant. If it is a liquid the bed expands
uniformly with increased upward flow of the reactant.
This is called homogenous fluidization. If the reactant is a
gas the bed will be non-uniform because the gas forms
bubbles in the bed, resulting in aggregative fluidization.
Sometimes these bubbles in coarse materials can grow
larger than two-thirds of the bed's diameter, which can
cause slugging. Slugging can result in variable pressures,
vibrations in the bed, and heat transfer reductions.
Increasing the velocity of the gas leads to a turbulent
regime, as shown below. In the fast fluidization regime
the bed surface starts to disappear. Increasing the gas
velocity further results in pneumatic transport, in which
the bed is completely removed and the particles are
uniformly spaced in the fluid. During this process the
reactants react due to the presence of the catalyst
pellets, forming products that are removed continuously.

Usage Examples
Fluidized bed reactors are commonly used in catalytic cracking
processes. They are also used in the oxidation of naphthalene to
phtalic anhydride, roasting of sulfide ores, coking of petroleum
residues, and the calcination of limestone. They are often used
when there is a need for large amounts of heat input or output,
or when closely controlled temperatures are required.
The fluidized bed reactors below are used in NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory for the removal of perchlorate and
chlorinated solvent from groundwater. The system can remove
perchlorate from up to 350 gallons of groundwater per minute.



Even temperature distribution eliminates hot spots.

Catalyst is easily replaced or regenerated.

Allows for continuous, automatically controlled operations.

Uniform Particle Mixing

Regeneration equipment for catalyst is expensive.

Catalyst may be deactivated.

Can't be used with catalyst solids that won't flow freely.

Uniform Temperature Gradients

Ability to Operate Reactor in Continuous State

Erosion of reactor walls may occur.

More efficient contacting of gas and solid than in other catalytic reactors.

Expensive to construct and maintain.

Large pressure drop.

Attrition, break-up of catalyst pellets due to impact against reactor walls, can occur.