Process Economics Program Report 226
Innovative Chemical Reactors
Published: June 2001
This report examines potential applications and economic potential for the use of innovative chemical reactors in existing processes.
A technology review profiles major design features and operational characteristics of conventional and innovative continuous chemical reactors including down flow, radial flow, tubular, fluidized bed, membrane, and porous wall reactors. Also breifly reviewed are static mixer, monolithic, microreactors, and reactive distillation.
The report then focuses on the use of catalytic membrane reactors for potential large scale dehydrogenation applications including production of styrene from ethylbenzene, production of ethylene from ethane, and production of isobutene from isobutante. Following a review of membrane types and example applications, technical barriers and R&D needs are identified, and an economic analysis developed to define the current state of the art.
Finally, an identification of potential applications by reaction class and chemical product is presented along with a conceptual techno-economic evaluation for SRI's novel porous wall reactor technology. Comparative process economics are reported for the sulfonation of methyl laurate for conventional and SRI's proposed process design to illustrate the commercial potential for SRI's reactor with process intensification.