three spheres spinning




Laboratory Equipment


Major Qualifying Projects

CFD in CRE IV Conference


Heat and Mass Transfer Lab


There are several different research projects associated with our lab. They are in the area of chemical reactor engineering, focusing on fixed bed and membrane reactors. We are interested in experimental and theoretical studies of flow, heat transfer and diffusion and mass transfer in these reactors. Much of our current interest is in using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to simulate the details of what is going on inside the reactor tubes.

Fixed beds are tubes packed with particles, through which gases and/or liquids flow. The fixed bed is the workhorse of the chemical industry, being used for many types of operation and chemical reaction. Our main interest is in fixed beds as reactors, where the packing is catalyst particles. These may be spheres, pellets, rings or other more complex shapes. Several uses of fixed bed reactors need energy to be transferred either out of the bed (e.g. exothermic partial oxidation reactions) or into it (e.g. endothermic steam reforming) through the tube walls. To do this, the tubes must be narrow, with only a few particles across a radius, so that the tube-to-particle aspect ratio N is typically in the range 3-10. Heat transfer problems in these beds are usually severe, especially near the tube wall, and the choice of catalyst particle shape can be critical.

In CFD simulation the Navier-Stokes mass and momentum conservation balances are solved for a large number of mesh volumes; additional balances for heat transfer and turbulence modeling are usually added. The basic equations and background of these balances are stated in standard references. Our research at WPI has concentrated on the use of CFD calculations to solve for the steady-state 3D flow fields in model fixed beds, with heat transfer, diffusion and chemical reaction in catalytic particles of various shapes.

In the pages linked to below a short introduction is given for each of the different research areas with some 'recent' results.

If you would like to know more about some of the projects in the lab please select one of the following links:

catalyst particle fixed bed experiment membrane reactor

Last modified:
Feb 8, 2013

[WPI home] [Chem Eng home]