Chemical reactors are the most vital elements of the chemical industry, contributing significantly to the total plant cost, efficiency of production, pollution control, number of separation steps needed downstream and therefore to its ultimate profitability. Although the reactor is the heart of most process plants, it usually is treated as a “black box” or a proprietary item and is not covered by commercial simulators. Each technology developer or licensor uses its own procedure to develop its reactor simulation online model. Such a procedure often is lengthy and expensive, due to ill-defined steps, many trial-and-error mistakes, and excessive pilot-plant campaigns.
Finally, even if the reactor is “successfully” scaled up to commercial size, the credibility of the design and the optimum operating conditions of the reactor often are questionable. “On the other hand, a plant owner may not have the know-how or confidence to modify, revamp, or modernize the reactor or its operation. The owner needs to build an in-house model for any such effort”1. The cover article “Build Robust Reactor Models” in the October 2000 issue of Chemical Engineering Progress presented a “well developed and tested procedure for building a robust reactor model/model package, [with] tips and traps [plus] proven ways to substantially cut the cost and time for the effort”1.
One of the authors of that article (Subhash Dutta) has spent his career on this work, plus other activities successfully “serving clients worldwide with the fastest, assured and most comprehensive reactor services and solutions in industry, to minimize risk and cost of process development; and to provide help in starting and making confident decisions on new reactor/technology or change/revamp of existing ones”2. Dutta’s work has continued and advanced this work, including the General Reactor Model (GRMTM) referenced in the article.
In addition to his further assistance to clients, he has formed a company, DIFREXR LLC, which uses the GRMTM and also the wide range of know-how and expertise of an expanded team. Today DIFREXR LLC is a team of process engineers based in Cape Canaveral, Florida, that provides reactor design with software services and solutions to clients worldwide in areas such as design and consulting on existing/new reactor systems, critical review/quick-check of third-party designs, experimental development and validation of proposed and recommended designs, debottlenecking/retrofit/revamp, and emergency response2.
This paper will provide more description of the GRMTM and the other services that DIFREXR provides, including examples of past applications and references1–33 and how they have contributed to faster development, evaluation, decision-making, etc., reducing costs and time, and have also led to increased standardization and enhanced certainty of the results, with additional economic benefits. These advances have been applied to a wide variety of reactor systems, with or without catalyst, and will be extended to more in the future.