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Modelling of three-phase flows with catalytic particles

Project description

Pioneering models of industrial reactor multi-phase, multi-component flows

The diameter of industrial reactors can reach between 5 and 10 metres. Within the tremendous volume enclosed by their walls, tiny solid catalyst particles on the order of 100 to 200 micrometres mix with chemicals in the liquid and gas phases, enabling a plethora of chemical reactions with socio-economic relevance. These dense, catalytic, multicomponent and multiphase flows of components on vastly differing scales are highly complex. Controlling them requires accurate modelling, yet little progress has been made in modelling three-phase flows. The European Research Council-funded MOD3CAT project will develop much-needed models incorporating multicomponent chemical transformations and will validate them against experimental results. The model of three-phase flows will enable the optimisation of processes and their efficiency, which currently poses a significant challenge.


This proposal is on modelling of 3 phase gas-solid-liquid multi-component flows with catalyst particles, which are frequently encountered in industrial applications, but have not been tackled fundamentally before due to their complexity.

Dense multi-phase flows have been intensively researched because of their scientifically interesting transport phenomena and industrial applications. Considerable progress has been made for gas-solid and gas-liquid two-phase flows. However, catalytic multicomponent three-phase flows have received relatively little attention despite their importance for the production of clean synthetic fuels, base chemicals, and many other products. Multiphase transport phenomena in such systems are poorly understood due to their complexity. Therefore the design of processes is cumbersome. In addition, the process operation is often far from optimal in terms of energy and feedstock utilization. Therefore significant improvements are required to boost the efficiency of three-phase systems, which demands for a better understanding of the transport fundamentals and complex interplay with chemical reactions and availability of predictive tools.

The main underlying problem is the wide range of length scales: suspended catalyst particles have a size of 100-200 μm, whereas the diameter of industrial reactors is 5-10 meters. To tackle this problem a multi-scale modeling strategy is required. At the finest scale detailed models take into account the interaction between the phases. These interactions are condensed in closure laws for mass, momentum and heat exchange that feed so-called Euler-Lagrange models, which can then be used to compute the flow structures on a much larger (industrial) scale. The key innovative aspect of this proposal is the integrated approach including incorporation of multi-component chemical transformations and the validation on basis of one-to-one comparison of the of the computational results with experiments.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 499 481,00
5612 AE Eindhoven

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Zuid-Nederland Noord-Brabant Zuidoost-Noord-Brabant
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 499 481,00

Beneficiaries (1)