Comprehensive Mathematical Modeling and Dynamic Simulation of Fixed Bed Reactor with Finite Element Method

Davood Dehestani, Hung Nguyen, Fahimeh Eftekhari, Jafar Madadnia, Steven Su, and Ying Guo


Dynamic Simulation, Mathematical Modelling, Fixed Bed Reactor, Finite Element Method, High Temperature Reaction, Phethalic Anhydrid


Wall cooled catalytic fixed bed reactors are commonplace in the process industries. In the case of reactions with high exothermic heat effects substantial radial and axial temperature gradients develop within the packed tubes. Accurate determination of the location and magnitude of the hotspot temperature is essential for the design, operation and control of such reactors. A transient 2D pseudo homogeneous model of a jacketed tubular fixed reactor is developed in this study. The transient model equations can be solved efficiently using the finite element technique. The model is validated against pilot plant scale and industrial scale data. The model developed in this study can accurately predict the experimental axial profiles at both the pilot and the industrial scales. The model developed in this study can be put to good use for model predictive control of the phthalic anhydride reactor and the development of safe start-up and shut-down procedures to avoid the formation of explosive mixtures. The transient 2D pseudo homogeneous model developed in this study can be used to analyze and optimize the long term operation of such deactivating fixed beds.

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