Chemical Reactors: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

Chemical reactors play an integral role in processing industries.

That’s why you need safe, reliable, high quality and compliant chemical reactor.

This guide will take you through every aspect you need to know about chemical reactors.

Keep reading to learn more.

Table of contents hide

What are Chemical Reactors?

Chemical reactors are types of enclosed volumes where different chemical reactions take place.

You can also identify it as a process vessel for carrying out diverse chemical reactions as well as chemical process analysis.

 inside chemical reactor

Inside chemical reactor

How Many Types of Chemical Reactors are There?

There are five main types of chemical reactors that you can choose from depending on your application requirements.

Here are the main five chemical reactors that you can choose from.

  • Batch Chemical Reactor
  • Continuous Stirred Tank Chemical Reactors
  • Plug Flow Reactors
  • Semi-batch Chemical Reactors
  • Catalytic Chemical Reactors

How Do the batch Chemical Reactors Compare to the Continuous Stirred Tank Reactors?

You can either choose to use the batch reactors or the continuous stirred tank reactors depending on your application requirements.

Batch chemical reactor

Batch chemical reactor

Here is a comparison that will distinguish and influence the choices you make between the two.

First, you should note that you can use both batch and continuous stirred tank reactors for chemical reactions.

Despite that similarity, batch reactors are the simplest types of reactors among the two types of reactors.

As soon as you load the materials in the batch reactor, the chemical process will proceed with reference to time.

Usually, your batch reactors will not go the extent of being steady and you have to control the chemical reaction specifications.

It usually comes complete with sensor ports as well as material output and input ports for easy monitoring.

On the flip side, continuous stirred tank reactors mix different types of reactants using an impeller while removing the reactor effluent.

You will realize that the entire process usually maintains a proper and standard continuous reaction throughout.

It maintains a steady state where the mass flowing in the reactors must be equal to the mass flowing outside.

You will benefit more by operating the continuous stirred tank reactors in series, which will increase the rate of reaction.

What is the Difference Between the Plug Flow Chemical Reactor and the Semi-batch Reactor?

Apart from the two reactors above, you can also opt for the plug flow reactor or the semi-batch reactors.

Here is a comparison between the two types of chemical reactors.

· Plug Flow Chemical Reactors

 Plug flow reactor

Plug flow reactor

You can also identify the plug flow chemical reactors as the tubular reactor or the continuous tubular reactor.

This type of chemical reactor usually assumes no axial mixing where the elements do not mix with fluids upstream or downstream.

In this case, you will introduce the reagent at the specific location other than the inlet of the plug flow chemical reactor.

It also has a very high percentage of reaction completion within a specific time period in comparison to other chemical reactors.

· Semi-batch Chemical Reactors

 Semi batch reactor

Semi batch reactor

This type of chemical reactor combines both batch and continuous inputs as well as outputs.

In this case, you will add the first reactor into the reactor and as the process proceeds, you will add the second reactor slowly.

This process will help in eliminating or preventing side reactions as it eliminates the final product continuously as it forms continuously.

What are Catalytic Chemical Reactors?

Catalytic chemical reactors are special types of plug flow reactors that will require complicated treatments and analysis.

The amount of catalyst added to the reaction or in contact to the reactants is directly proportional to the catalytic reactions.

Apart from that, you will have to maintain a proper concentration of all the reactants as it affects the entire process outcome.

It also carries out the catalytic reactions on a step by step basis with particular intermediates chemically bound to intermediaries.

How Many Types of Continuous Chemical Reactors are There?

You can choose among the numerous types of continuous chemical reactors available at your disposal.

It is important to remember that, the numerous types of chemical reactors have different working principles.

Here are some of the continuous chemical reactors that you can choose from.

· Tubular Chemical Reactors

This type of continuous chemical reactor allows the flow of fluids at a very high speed in comparison to the others.

As all the reactants flow within the tube at considerable speed, the chemical reactions occur thus converting into products.

It is also the most appropriate type of continuous chemical reactor that prevents the prospects of back mixing.

It increases the overall yield while reducing the chances of any side reactions that affect the chemical reactions.

· Fixed Bed Chemical Reactors

This type of continuous chemical reactor has a fixed bed of reactors or pellets with fluids flowing continuously through them.

You can use the fixed bed chemical reactors in different applications such as the manufacture of sulfuric acid and ammonia.

· Fluid Bed Chemical Reactors

This type of fluid bed chemical reactor consists of very fine catalyst particles sitting on distributor plates.

It allows the gaseous reactants to flow through the catalyst particles on the distributor plate leading to a chemical reaction.

It increases the surface area that is in contact with the reactants thus leading to a complete chemical reaction.

· Continuous Stirred Tank Chemical Reactors

In this case, the chemical reactor introduces an impeller which helps in mixing the reagents at a particular speed.

The rate at which the reactants flow into the reactor is equal to the rate which the final product leaves the chemical reactors.

Implying that the composition that flows out of the reactor is equal to the composition within the tank of the reactor.

What Are the Future Prospects of the Chemical Reactors?

The future of chemical reaction vessels is bright with prospects of making the chemical reactors smaller than the current size.

You should expect all the chemical reactors to be about the size of your computer desktop known as microreactors.

This will reduce the cost of capital that you will invest in purchasing the chemical reactors.

Apart from that, it will reduce the quantity of chemicals in use for particular chemical reactions.

In a nut shell, you will be using chemical reactors that are not only cheap but also very safe for you.

What’s more, you will have better and more enhanced control of the system and chemical parameters.

For instance, you will be able to keep the temperatures constant more readily for the most efficient heat transfers.

What is the Function of the Heat Exchanger in Chemical Reactors?

You will use the heat exchangers to control the temperatures necessary for different chemical reactions.

It will provide the necessary heat that your chemical reaction plants require to increase the overall heat of reaction.

One of the most common heat exchangers that you can use is the shell and tune heat exchanger.

This type of heat exchanger allows the flow of heat through the entire tube as well as around the shell.

The rate of heat transfers between the different chemical reactions is often proportional to:

  • Difference in temperature between incoming gases and hot gases
  • Surface area of the tubes

How Do You Classify the Different Types of Chemical Reactors?

You will depend on the variables of the chemical reactors to classify the chemical reactors.

Here are the main classification schemes that you can employ for proper classification of chemical reactors.

· Operation Type

You can classify the chemical reactors, according to the type of operation which is the primary method of proper classification.

Here, you will find different types of chemical reactors including:

i. Batch Chemical Reactors

ii. Semi-batch Chemical Reactors

iii. Continuous Flow Chemical Reactors with sub category such as plug flow reactor and continuous-stirred tank reactors.

· Number of Phases

You can also classify the chemical reactors, according to the number of phases on the chemical reactors.

Here are the main types of chemical reactors, according to the number of phases classification.

· Homogenous Chemical Reactors

This type of chemical reactor has one phase only throughout the entire chemical reactor.

· Heterogenous Chemical Reactors

This type of chemical reactor has more than one phase with different examples such as:


a. Gas-solid

b. Liquid-solid

c. Gas-liquid-solid

d. Gas-liquid Phase

i. Gas-solid Phase

ii. Liquid-solid Phase

iii. Gas-liquid-solid Phase

· Type of Reaction

You can also classify the chemical reactors, according to the type of reactions.

Hera is the main classifications of the chemical reactors, according to the type of reaction.

i. Catalytic Reaction Classification

This type of reaction must have a catalyst in order to obtain perfect conditions for perfect results.

ii. Noncatalytic Reaction Classification

In this reaction, you will not need heterogenous or homogenous catalyst to create the best condition for perfect results.

iii. Autocatalytic Reaction Classification

This is a reaction scheme which involves the use of one particular product to increase the overall reaction rates.

iv. Biological Reaction Classification

In this case, you will classify the chemical reactors, according to living cells’ reactions required for proper reaction schemes.

v. Polymerization Reaction Classification

This type of classification involves the use of molecular chains which can be in solution or on solid state.

· Combination of Different Terms

It involves a combination of all the above classifications which you can use to describe the chemical reactors.

For instance, you can have the heterogenous catalytic batch reactors among others.

Which are the Best Materials for the Construction of Chemical Reactors?

There are different materials that you can use in the construction of the chemical reactors.

Here are the main types of materials that you can use in the construction of the chemical reactors.

  • Austenitic Stainless-Steel Materials
  • Super Austenitic Stainless-Steel Materials
  • Duplex and Super duplex Stainless-Steel Materials
  • Nickel Alloys and Superalloy Materials
  • Titanium Materials
  • Cladding Materials

What are the Main Applications of the Chemical Reactors?

You can employ the chemical reactors in almost all the chemical industries.

Here are some of the chemical industries that use the different types of chemical reactors.

  • Aeration and Oxidation Industries
  • Enzymatic and Catalytic Process Industries
  • Crystallization and Concentration Process Industries
  • Hydrogenation Process Industries
  • Homogenization Process Industries
  • Thermal Transfer Applications

What are the Components of the Chemical Reactors?

Chemical reactors consist of different parts which perform different functions.

You must note that there are different types of chemical reactors, which have different parts.

Here are the main parts of a continuous stirred tank chemical reactor.

Parts of chemical reactor tank

Parts of chemical reactor tank

· Tank

The tank is the main part of the chemical reactor where all of the chemical reactions take place.

It is the place where all the reactants meet and mix with other types of reactants to produce the final product.

· Stirrer

This is the part of the continuous stirred tank reactor, which is responsible for storing and homogeneously mixing all the reactants.

· Heat Exchanger

You will depend on the heat exchanger to provide the necessary heat for the chemical reactions to occur.

· Inlet and Outlet Pipes

You will use the inlet pipes to add more reactants into the tank while the outlet pipes release the final product.

· Control System

You will use the control system to configure, control and monitor all the reactions within the chemical reactors.

How Do the Chemical Reactors Work?

Since there are quite a number of chemical reactors in the industry, the working principles often differ.

In this case, we will have a look at how the continuous stirred tank reactors work.

Step One: Preparation Stage

You will begin the whole process by preparing the machine and setting it up according to the product specifications.

Apart from that, you will also prepare all the reactants that you would like to mix using the continuous stirred tank reactors.

As soon as you complete the preparation process, you will introduce all the reactants into the reactor though the inlet.

Step Two: Mixing Stage

Here, the stirrer will spring into action as soon as the reactants enter the tank of the continuous stirred tank reactors.

Apart from that, the heat exchanger will provide the necessary heat that the reaction process requires to complete the reaction.

The process will continue with all the factors remaining constant as the reactants mix and form homogenous mixtures.

It will take a considerable amount of time, which usually varies according the type of reactants.

Step Three: Releasing the Homogenous Mixture

Finally, you will allow the machine to release the homogenous mixture as soon as the mixing process is complete.

You will note that the machine maintains the properties that it had during the inlet process as well as the outlet process.

Which Specifications Do You Look at Before You Purchase the Chemical Reactors?

There are particular operation variables that you need to look at when you are choosing the chemical reactors.

Here are the main operational variables that you will pay very close attention to.

Model of the Chemical Reactor

You should consider using the most trusted models of chemical reactors in the industry.

In this case, you should consult fellow manufacturers who will refer you to specific models that function well.

Residence Time

You should know the period that particular reactants will take while in the chemical reactors.

This will help in purchasing the perfect chemical reactor that can withstand the reaction time between different reactants.

Volume or Capacity

Most of the chemical reactor is very big in size and accommodate different volumes of reactants.

You will consider the quantity of reactants you will be mixing in the chemical reactants before making a choice.

Pressure and Temperature Requirements

Here, you will consider the maximum and minimum temperature requirements of your application.

You will make your choice by looking at the type of chemical reactors capable of handling the application requirements.

How Do You Test the Quality of the Chemical Reactors?

In the current world, it is important that you choose among the very best of the chemical reactors in the industry.

In that case, you must conduct quality tests on the chemical reactors before you purchase them.

Here are some of the tests that you will perform on the chemical reactors.

· Characterization System Tests

You will sort the chemical reactors in accordance to the physical characteristics, including grading of materials and size among others.

· Vision Inspection Systems

You will use a camera to help with the automatic inspection of different aspects of the chemical reactors.

· Absence or Presence Monitoring

In this case, you will look at the chemical reactor with the aim of finding out the absence or presence of different parts.

In addition to the above tests, you can also conduct the following:

  • Sensor and Laser Measurement Systems
  • Pressure and Leak Testing Systems
  • Force and Torque Quality Testing
  • Electric Current and Voltage Testing
  • Temperature Control and Testing Systems
  • Variation Monitoring and Testing Systems
  • Gauging and Probing Systems

Which Factors Affect the Cost of Chemical Reactors?

As soon as you have the idea of purchasing a chemical reactor, you must have a proper budget.

When budgeting for chemical reactors, you must look at specific factors such as:

i. Type of Chemical Reactors

Here, you will look at the different types of chemical reactors available in the market.

You will note that they have varying costs depending on the working principles of the chemical reactors.

ii. Quality of the Chemical Reactors

Here, the higher the quality of the chemical reactors, the more you will pay for the chemical reactors.

iii. Capacity of the Chemical Reactors

In this case, you will pay a higher price for the chemical reactors that can handle greater capacities or volumes.

Generally, chemical reactors cost between 5,000 and 250,000 US Dollars to purchase.

How Do You use the Chemical Reactors to Boost Your Business?

Well, you must maintain optimum conditions on all the chemical reactor conditions.

Here are the main factors to consider when you intend to boost your business using the chemical reactors.

  • Purchase chemical reactors of very high quality that will not fail during the production process
  • Maintain the chemical reactors on a regular basis to maintain proper working conditions
  • Hire personnel with plenty of experience in operating and maintaining the chemical reactors.
  • Have knowledge on how to troubleshoot the chemical reactors in case of faults
  • Know how the chemical reactors work
  • Understand the main parts of the chemical reactors for easy identification
  • Know how to set the machine on optimum working conditions

How Do You Maintain a Chemical Reactor?

You must maintain your chemical reactors on a regular basis to ensure that they are in proper working conditions.

This will help in increasing the longevity or service life as well as performance of the chemical reactors.

You can maintain the chemical reactors through proper cleaning of the system to get rid of the residues on the device.

Apart from that, you will have to lubricate all the moving parts on the chemical reactors to prevent damage.

You must also conduct regular inspection on the machine to identify the parts that require replacements.

In that case, you will have to remove and replace the parts of the chemical reactors if the need arises.

It is important to have a proper schedule for proper maintenance of the chemical reactors.

You can use a prediction software which will monitor the performance of the chemical reactors and inform you of any problems.

What are the Benefits of Using the Chemical Reactors?

There are quite a number of benefits that you will enjoy by using the chemical reactors.

Here are some of the advantages of using chemical reactors.

· Easy to Use

You will have an easy time when it comes to controlling and operating the chemical reactors.

It has a simple design and a control system that is friendly to the user requirements.

· Versatile

You can also mix a wide range of chemicals using the chemical reactors.

Implying that you can use the chemical reactors in a wide range of industrial applications.

· High Durability Levels

You will also use the chemical reactors for a very long time as they are highly durable.

Most of them have materials with a very high tensile strength that can withstand the pressure from the chemical reactions.

Proper Control of Variables

You will also have perfect control of all the reaction variables with the help of the chemical reactors.

It allows you to control the pressure and temperature of the chemical reactors better.

What are the Limitations of Using the Chemical Reactors?

 Chemical reactor

 Chemical reactor

Unfortunately, there are particular limitations that are associated with the use of chemical reactors.

Here are the main limitations that you will experience while using the chemical reactors.

· High Cost of Acquisition

You will spend a considerable amount of money in the acquisition of the chemical reactors.

You will also pay a considerable sum of money to ensure proper installation of the machine.

· Presence of Dead Zones

There are particular instances where dead zones occur during the mixing process of the reactants.

These dead zones prevent proper mixing of all the ingredients thus affecting overall performance.

Once you consider everything in this guide, it will be easier to choose a highly effective chemical reactor.

However, if you have any question, feel free to FilSon Filters.

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