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Aqueous Phase Reforming in a Microchannel Reactor: The Effect of Mass Transfer on Hydrogen Selectivity


Aqueous phase reforming of sorbitol was carried out in a 1.7 m long, 320 mm ID microchannel reactor with a 5 mm Pt-based washcoated catalyst layer, combined with nitrogen stripping. The performance of this microchannel reactor is correlated to the mass transfer properties, reaction kinetics, hydrogen selectivity and product distribution. Mass transfer does not affect the rate of sorbitol consumption, which is limited by the kinetics of the reforming reaction. Mass transfer significantly affects the hydrogen selectivity and the product distribution. The rapid consumption of hydrogen in side reactions at the catalyst surface is prevented by a fast mass transfer of hydrogen from the catalyst site to the gas phase in the microchannel reactor. This results in a decrease of the concentration of hydrogen at the catalyst surface, which was found to enhance the desired reforming reaction rate at the expense of the undesired hydrogen consuming reactions. Compared to a fixed bed reactor, the selectivity to hydrogen in the microchannel reactor was increased by a factor of 2. The yield of side products (mainly C3 and heavier hydrodeoxygenated species) was suppressed while the yield of hydrogen was increased from 1.4 to 4 moles per mole of sorbitol fed.

Funding source: Smart Mix Program, Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs; Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain
Countries: Netherlands

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