Monolithic catalysts with high thermal conductivity for the Fischer–Tropschsynthesis in tubular reactors

Carlo Giorgio Visconti, Enrico Tronconi , Gianpiero Groppi, Luca Lietti, Massimo Iovane, Stefano Rossini, Roberto Zennaro
Chemical Engineering Journal,Volume 171, Issue 3, July 2011

Abstract

The adoption of multitubular reactors loaded with washcoated structured catalysts having highly conductive honeycomb supports has been proposed as an alternative to conventional packed-bed reactors in order to approach the ideal plug-flow behaviour while (i) enabling isothermal operation of highly endo- and exo-thermic reactions, (ii) facilitating the intraparticle mass-transfer, and (iii) limiting pressure drop. The potential of such reactors in the low temperature Fischer–Tropsch synthesis is investigated herein by means of a pseudo-continuous, heterogeneous, two-dimensional mathematical model of a single reactor tube. Simulation results indicate that extruded aluminum honeycomb monoliths, washcoated with a Co/Al2O3 catalyst, are promising for the application at the industrial scale, in particular when adopting supports with high cell densities and catalysts with high activity. Limited temperature gradients are in fact possible even at extreme process conditions, thus leading to interesting volumetric reactor yields with negligible pressure drop. This result is achieved without the need of cofeeding to the reactor large amounts of liquid hydrocarbons to remove the reaction heat, as opposite to existing industrial Fischer–Tropsch packed-bed reactors.

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