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Chapter 8 S,S&L
Terry Ring
Chemical Engineering
University of Utah
Location of Separation Units
What to do with Low Reactor
• Low Reactor Conversion
– Recycle to extinction

• Overall process conversion

– Reactor/separator/recycle
– Goes to ~100%
Location of Separation Network
• After Reactor
– Products are traditionally separated
– Reactants Recycled
• Before Reactor
– Reactants are typically purified before Reaction

• But
– Could reactor be run so that no separation is
– Could reactor be run so that a small separation
system could be used?
– Could products also be effectively separated
before the reactor with one separation system?
– Could other configurations be used?
Location of Separation System
• Can reactor produce nearly pure products?
– Keq>10,000 and with stoichiometric feed,
– No Separator after the reactor is needed!
– No Recycle is needed!
– Example, H2 + Cl2  2 HCl
• Can Reactants and Product be separated easily?
– CO + 2H2  CH3OH
– Reaction with 50% conversion then Flash gives clean product as
liquid and unused reactants as vapor
– H2 + N2  NH3
– Reaction with 40% conversion then Cryo-Flash gives clean
product as liquid and unused reactants as vapor
• Note, Reactants do not need to be separated into pure
component streams to be recycled.
Trade-off between Reactor and
• Factors
– Reactor Conversion of limiting reactant
• Effects cost and size of Separation Train
– Reactor Temperature and mode of operation
(adiabatic, isothermal, etc.)
• Effect utility costs for both separation and reaction
• Effect impurities from side reactions
– High Reactor Pressure for Le Chatlier cases
• Higher cost for recycle compression
Trade-off between Reactor and
• Factors, cont.
– Use of excess reactants to increase equilibrium
conversion and/or reaction rate
• Increases cost of separation train
– Use of diluents in adiabatic reactor to control
temperature in reactor
• Increases cost of separations train
– Use of purge to avoid difficult separation.
• Decreases the cost of separations
• Loss of reactants – increase cost of reactants
• May increase cost of reactor, depending on the purge-to-
recycle ratio
Factors that affect recycle/purge
• Factor
– Excess reactants
• Increases recycle flow
• Increases separation costs
• Increase feed stream costs
– Raw Materials
– Heat up and Pressure up requirements
– Concentration of impurities to be purged
• Effects the recycle-to-purge ratio
– High Reactor outlet temperature and pressure
• Increase cost of utilities in separation
• Increase cost to recycle - compressor
Flow Sheet

•2C2H4 + C4H10  C8H18

ΔP= 2 psi

ΔP= 10 psi

Purge Stream

Recycle Stream
• Suggestions for efficient operation
– Make reactor hit high conversion
– Minimize side reactions with
• Temperature profile
• Pressure used
• Excess reactants
• Impurities added to the feed
– Streamline separation train
– Use purge for impurities in all recycle streams
– Understand trade-offs
• Impacts on operating costs
• Impacts on capital cost
Feedback effects of Recycle Loop
• Small disturbance on feed
• Large effect on recycle flow
– rate/composition
• Snowball effect on reactor/separator
Cumene Process
Main Reaction over Al2O3/SiO2 catalyst

As much as 10%
Lost here
Product Specs
Two step reactor
• Main Reaction

• Trans alkylation reactor

Separation Train Info.