Microchannel reactors for fast periodic operation: the catalytic dehydrogenation of isopropanol
A microchannel reactor specially designed for periodic operation and a process to deposit a catalyst, g-alumina, inside the reactor channels were developed. The hydrodynamics of the reactor was characterised. Although the flow in the microchannels is laminar, a uniform radial concentration profile and consequently a narrow residence time distribution were obtained. Depending on the manufacturing method the Bodenstein number was found to be Bo=ud/Dm= 70. The catalytic coating had no influence on this distribution indicating a uniform deposition of the catalyst within the microchannels. As the inlet function was only slightly modified in the reactors, frequencies of up to 1 Hz could be imposed for periodic operation. The dehydration of isopropanol to propene was chosen as model reaction to study the dynamic behaviour of a microreactor under periodic concentration variations. The kinetics was firstly studied in a conventional fixed-bed reactor with the catalyst developed for the microreactor. Experimental results confirmed the theoretically predicted increase of the reactor performance under periodic operation exceeding the maximum obtainable performance under steady-state conditions.