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Download the full Fundamentals of Mass Transfer and Kinetics for the Hydrogenation of Nitrobenzene to Aniline Application Note...
ALR Application Note
Fundamentals of Mass Transfer and Kinetics
for the Hydrogenation of Nitrobenzene to Aniline
Reinaldo M. Machado, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
The catalytic hydrogenation of nitrobenzene to
aniline in a continuously mixed slurry reactor is
a complex chemical process. A number of competing mass transfer and kinetic rate processes
contribute to the overall observed reaction rate.
Scale-up and optimization of the process require
that the contributing rate processes are understood individually and their impact on the total
process is quantified. Laboratory reactors must be
operated under conditions that will allow meaningful process characterization and scale-up.
Two classical mechanistic routes to aniline from
nitrobenzene are possible depending upon process conditions and the effects of gas/liquid and
liquid/catalyst mass transfer. Intermediates formed
during these competing chemical routes can act
as catalyst poisons that can radically change
reactor performance.
This paper will describe and characterize these
competing processes for scale-up.
Keywords: Mass transfer, kinetics, scale-up,
hydrogenation, aniline, nitrobenzene, slurry, agitation, liquid-solid, catalyst, pulse kinetics, reaction
rate.
No. 01-2007
Introduction
From a historical perspective, aniline is perhaps one
of the more important synthetic organic chemicals
ever manufactured. In 1856, Sir William Henry Perkin,
a student at the Royal College of Chemistry in London,
discovered and isolated a purple dye during the oxidation of impure aniline1. The discovery of this dye,
known as mauve, created quite a stir and Perkin,
seeing the value of his discovery, proceeded to scale
up the synthetic process for the production of mauve,
which included the synthesis of aniline. This process
was to become one of the first commercial processes
to generate a synthetic organic chemical.
During the last three decades, polyurethane plastics
have emerged as a growth industry and aniline once
again plays a key role as an industrial intermediate
used in the manufacture of MDI, 4,4’-diphenylmethane diisocyanate, a key commercial monomer in the
manufacture of polyurethane plastics.
Aniline is produced by the reduction of nitrobenzene,
which is produced from the nitration of benzene in a
mixture of sulfuric and nitric acid. Originally, nitrobenzene was reacted with dispersed iron in the presence
of HCl to generate aniline and an iron oxide sludge.
NO2
+ 9/4 Fe + H2O
HCI
NH2
+ 3/4 Fe3O4
(1)
This process generated large quantities of waste and
was eventually replaced by the catalytic hydrogenation of nitrobenzene in a three-phase slurry reactor.
NO2
+ 3 H2
Catalyst
NH2
+ 2 H2O
(2)
The catalytic hydrogenation of nitrobenzene to aniline
in a continuously mixed slurry reactor is a complex
chemical process.
A number of competing mass transfer and kinetic rate
processes contribute to the overall observed reaction
rate. Scale-up and optimization of the process require
that the contributing rate processes are understood
individually and that their impact on the total process
rate be quantified. Laboratory reactors must be operated under conditions that will allow meaningful process
characterization for scale-up.
The key rate processes are illustrated in Figure 1,
which shows schematically typical concentration
profiles during the hydrogenation of the nitrobenzene:
first, the rate of hydrogen mass transfer from the gas
phase to the liquid phase; the rate of hydrogen and
nitrobenzene mass transfer from the bulk liquid phase
to the outer surface of the catalyst; the rate of hydrogen and nitrobenzene mass transfer into the porous
catalyst; and finally, the adsorption and kinetic rates of
the hydrogen and nitrobenzene on the inner catalytic
surface of the catalyst particle.
Two classical, mechanistic pathways to aniline from
nitrobenzene are possible depending upon process
conditions and the effects of gas/liquid and liquid/
catalyst mass transfer. Intermediates formed during
these competing chemical routes can act as reversible catalyst poisons that can radically change reactor
performance. It is not within the scope of this paper
to exhaustively review the literature or to optimize the
process catalysts, temperature or conditions for the
reduction of nitrobenzene to aniline; rather, this paper
will describe the principles, laboratory methods and
analysis techniques for characterizing these competing
processes.
CH2, Bulk
Concentration
Aniline can also be produced in the gas phase by the
reduction of nitrobenzene with hydrogen over fixed
catalysts2. This paper focuses on the characterization
of a slurry process for the reduction of nitrobenzene to
aniline.
Catalyst
CNitrobenyine, Bulk
Gas
Film
Liquid
Film
Bulk
Liquid
Distance
Solid / Liquid Film
dp
2
0
Figure 1
Typical concentration profile during hydrogenation of nitrobenzene.
Literature
A review of the literature can yield a confusing
description of the overall process kinetics of nitrobenzene hydrogenation with authors reporting reaction
orders for nitrobenzene and hydrogen between zero
and one depending upon reaction conditions3-6.
A general review of the kinetic studies is given in
the doctoral thesis by Füsun Yücelen7. Most kinetic
studies generate global kinetic rate models based on
hydrogen uptake and overall conversion. However
some detailed studies using analytical methods to
identify the individual intermediate species have also
been used to characterize reaction kinetic processes8.
Additionally, most of the kinetics studies in the literature are conducted at relatively low temperatures with
solvents. Optimized industrial processes would rather
eliminate the use of solvents and their associated
separation processes, which can negatively impact
overall process economics. Environmental pressures
also tend to favor processes that use fewer solvents.
It would generally be preferred to use the reaction
products of the nitrobenzene reduction, i.e., aniline
and water, as the reaction solvent. Unfortunately, aniline and water are not miscible at low temperatures;
therefore, higher temperatures must be employed
to maintain a single liquid phase under process conditions. No literature studies are reported under these
conditions. It is hoped that his study will help shed
some light on this process while illustrating the
general principles required for characterizing a hydrogenation process from the laboratory scale.
ALR Application Note
Chemistry
The chemistry for the reduction of nitrobenzene to aniline was originally elucidated by Haber as reported by
Strätz10 and is illustrated in Figure 2.
Two paths exist to aniline according to this scheme.
The first proceeds from the sequential reduction of
nitrobenzene: first to nitrosobenzene, next to phenylhydroxylamine, and finally to aniline.
This path, we will see, is favored under conditions
in which the concentrations of nitrobenzene are low,
< 0.15 %. If the concentrations of nitrosobenzene
and phenylhydroxylamine are allowed to increase, the
formation of azoxybenzene proceeds rapidly followed
by reduction to azobenzene, phenyl hydrazine, and
finally, aniline.
The second path, while ultimately yielding aniline,
is much slower kinetically on nickel catalysts and is
favored under conditions in which the nitrobenzene
concentrations are high, > 0.15 %. During high temperature studies, the only stable intermediates identified and monitored were nitrobenzene, azoxybenzene
and azobenzene, as we will see later.
Aniline/Water Solubility
The solubility of aniline and water has been well documented and is illustrated in Figure 311,12.
The stoichiometric composition of the complete reduction product of nitrobenzene is 27.9 % water/72.1 %
Nitrobenzene
NO2
Nitrosobenzene
H2
NO
Phenylhydroxylamine
Aniline
H2
H2
NH2
NOH
H
+
N
O
N
N
Azoxzbenzene
H2
N
Azobenzene
H2
N N
H H
Phenylhydrazine
H2
2
NH2
Figure 2
Haber’s reaction pathways for the reduction of nitrobenzene to aniline, Strätz10.
Temperature, Celsius
Experimental
For this set of studies the global reaction kinetics was
determined by continuously monitoring the reaction
exotherm using the METTLER TOLEDO RC1/HP60 highpressure reactor fitted with a single baffle and gas
induction agitator supplied by Mettler-Toledo Inc.9.
The METTLER TOLEDO PIC10 pressure controller was
operated to allow hydrogen gas into the reactor to
maintain the desired pressure setpoint while gas was
not allowed to exit the reactor.
The reduction of nitrobenzene to aniline is exothermic
and generates –536.6 ± 5.9 kJ/mole as measured in
this study, making the calorimetric method ideal for
this process. Reagents were all purchased through
Aldrich. Individual species were monitored using internal standard gas chromatographic methods. Sponge
nickel or Raney® type catalysts were used in this
study at concentrations between 0.05 % and 0.10 %.
All reactions were carried out with the agitator operating at 1000 rpm, which gave a mixing intensity measured at 1.0 watt/liter.
200
180
A. N. Campbell
(11)
1 Phase Region
W.Alexejew
(12)
160
140
120
2 Phase Region
110
100
80
60
Figure 3
Aniline/water phase diagram.
Weight % Aniline
aniline. From Figure 3, temperatures in excess of
160 °C would be required to keep this mixture homogeneous. High temperatures can impact byproduct
chemistry, reducing aniline yields. However, if aniline
is fed to the reactor system along with the nitrobenzene or if water is continuously removed via distillation, the concentration of aniline in a continuous
process can be maintained at aniline concentrations
higher than that dictated by the stoichiometry.
Therefore, lower temperatures are required to keep the
system homogeneous. In this study the continuous
feed to the reactor consisted of 50 % aniline and
50 % nitrobenzene, which maintained a nominal
steady-state composition in the reactor of 14.3 %
water and 85.7 % aniline. Under this composition,
temperatures in excess of 135 °C are required to
maintain homogeneity of the liquid phase.
ALR Application Note
Gas-Liquid Mass Transfer
The primary and most fundamental rate process that
must be characterized when conducting any hydrogenation reaction is the mass transfer of gas into the
liquid reaction phase. In most industrial processes
using pure hydrogen, the gas film mass transfer
resistance can be ignored and mass transfer rates are
dominated by the liquid film resistance. The rate of
gas mass transfer can then be represented by the
following expression:
Rate =
kl · Ag
VL (CH2, sat _ CH2, bulk)
(3)
where kl = liquid side mass transfer coefficient
[m/sec], Ag = gas/liquid interfacial area, VL = reactor
liquid volume. The parameters kl·Ag/VL can be combined into the familiar mass transfer coefficient,
kl · Ag
VL
= kla
(4)
The mass transfer coefficient, kla [sec-1], can be
viewed as a fundamental parameter describing a particular reactor system. Numerous correlations for the
gas mass transfer coefficient in a variety of reactors
have been documented13,14.
However, these correlations may not be applicable
to small laboratory reactors that often exhibit unique
mixing dynamics and reactor geometry and operate
with a particular chemistry and a wide spectrum of
process physical properties. Often trying to match performance and mixing between small- and largescale
reactors is difficult when only relying upon mechanical measurements such as agitation rate, geometry,
agitator design, etc. A more consistent approach to
studying process dynamics in small reactors is to
measure the gas mass transfer coefficient directly in
the actual reaction system. Establishing a realistic
mass transfer correlation for the laboratory reactor
system will allow «tuning» of the kla to the desired
conditions required for the scale-up or scale-down of
a process. The strategy for scale-up is to match mass
transfer coefficients, kla, from the small to the large
scale rather than trying to match geometry, agitation
rates, or other mixing characteristics.
Batch Absorption Method for the Determination of
kla and Gas Solubility
Numerous techniques have been applied to the measurement of gas-liquid mass transfer in slurry reactors
and bubble columns15-18.
Many involve the oxidation of aqueous sulfite solutions and the absorption of oxygen. Measured values
of kla from these experiments must be translated to
the system of interest, which requires detailed knowledge of the physical properties of the reaction mixture.
An alternative to this method is the use of the batch
absorption method, which determines the kla in the
exact reaction composition to be used in the process study under the process conditions of interest.
The advantages of this approach are obvious as no
estimates of physical properties are required and the
exact mass transfer coefficient for the system of interest is obtained directly.
Both the gas solubility and the mass transfer coefficient, kla, can be accurately measured for virtually
any liquid chemical system by monitoring the batch
absorption of a gas into a liquid. This is accomplished
by continuously monitoring the pressure drop via a
fast-response pressure transducer in a batch gasliquid system. The technique described by Dietrich et
al. is straight forward to implement19.
First, the volume of the reaction/mass-transfer vessel must be determined. The mass of the liquid and
its density at the process temperature must also be
known. Next, the reactor is filled approximately half
full with the process liquid to be studied without the
catalyst. For the solubility measurements to be accurate, the system must be completely purged of all
gases so that the only gases in the system are vapors
from the liquid phase.
Once the system has been purged, it is sealed and
equilibrated at the temperature to be studied with
appropriate agitation. The equilibrium pressure of the
liquid with its vapor is recorded. Next the agitator rotation is stopped and the circulating liquid in the reactor
is allowed to stabilize. The gas to be studied is slowly
added to the head space of the reaction vessel to the
desired pressure. It is important to preheat the gas to
the process temperature before introduction into the
vessel. During this entire procedure the temperature
and pressure are monitored. The quiescent mixture is
allowed to stabilize for 1 or 2 minutes and then the
agitation is increased within 1 to 2 seconds to its final
designated value. The pressure from a fast-response
pressure transducer is monitored electronically and
recorded using a fast data sampling device or a strip
chart recorder.
ALR Application Note
CLsat = (P − PE ) ·
1
PM − PE VG
·
·
PF − PEL VL RT
(5)
Pressure in the reactor, barabs
Immediately after the agitator is started, the pressure
in the vessel begins to decrease as gas from the head
space of the reactor vessel is absorbed into the liquid.
The pressure continues to drop until the saturation
point is reached.
A typical example of this experiment is illustrated
in Figure 4. It is clear from Figure 4 that the rate of
absorption is strongly influenced by the agitation
intensity. From this data both the gas solubility and
the mass-transfer coefficient, kla, can be determined.
The key results are summarized in the following
equations:
16.4
800 RPM
16.2
1000RPM
16.0
1200 RPM
15.8
1400 RPM
Final Pressure
15.6
15.4
15.2
0
5
10
15
20
25
Time, seconds
Figure 4
Pressure profile during batch hydrogen absorption in the RC1/HP60 w/induction agitator
(14.3 % water in aniline @ 140 °C).
ln (α ) = − kla ·
PM − PE
·t
PF − PE
(6)
(7)
where
CLsat = saturation solubility of gas in the liquid
phase [mole/liter or M],
P
= pressure in the vessel [barabs],
PM = maximum pressure after the head space
is charged with gas [barabs],
PF = final pressure after gas has saturated
the liquid phase [barabs],
PE = equilibrium pressure of the liquid with its
vapor [barabs],
VG = volume of the gas phase [liters],
VL = volume of the liquid phase [liters],
R
= ideal gas constant,
0.08314 [barabs·liter/mole·K],
T
= temperature in degrees [K],
kla = mass transfer coefficient [sec-1],
t
= time from the onset of agitation [sec],
α
= alpha, (P-PF)/(PM-PF), fraction of pressure
remaining.
RPM kla
1/sec
800 0.146
0.50
1000 0.235
0.30
1200 0.335
0.20
1400 0.422
0.10
0.05
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
Time, seconds
Figure 5
Characterization of gas-liquid mass transfer via batch hydrogen absorbtion (14.3 % water
in aniline @ 140 °C).
0.50
Gas Induction
Agitator
14.3 % Water
in Aniline
@ 140 °C
0.40
kla, 1/sec
PM − PF
PM − PE
ln
= kla ·
·t
P − PF
PF − PE
Alpha, (P-PF)/(PM-PF)
1.00
..30
0.20
0.10
0.00
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
Rotation Rate, RPM
The key assumptions in this analysis are as follows:
first, the gas phase is ideal and follows the ideal gas
law. Second, the value of kla is constant during the
experiment. Finally, the volume of the liquid and gas
phases is essentially constant during the experiment.
The data illustrated in Figure 4 is plotted according
to Equation 7 in Figure 5. From the slope of the line,
the value of kla can be determined.
Figure 6
Effect of agitation on the gas/liquid mass transfer coefficient in the RC1/HP60.
The effect of the agitation rate on the mass transfer
coefficient is plotted in Figure 6 for this reactor system. The gas mass transfer coefficient can also be a
function of the liquid height above the agitator and this
effect can also be studied using this technique.
ALR Application Note
However, for this study an average reactor liquid
volume of 1 liter was used as a basis for comparison.
In most well-designed, hydrogenation stirred tank
reactors, gas mass transfer coefficients between 0.05
sec-1 and 0.5 sec-1 can be achieved.
From Figure 6, a kla of 0.235 sec-1 @ 1000 rpm
was chosen, which represents values often found in
larger-scale, stirred hydrogenation reaction vessels.
Solubility measurements and estimates for a variety of
conditions are tabulated in Table 1 for this study.
Hydrogen solubility in 14.3 % water/85.7 % aniline [M]
Total system pressure [barg]
Temperature
140 °C
160 °C
8.0
11.0
14.0
0.0090
0.0073
0.0138
0.0122
0.0186
0.0170
Table 1
Hydrogen solubility measurements and estimates from Equation 5.
A Warning about Agitation Studies
Often it is desired to operate a laboratory reactor
under conditions in which mass transfer is sufficiently
fast that it does not impact the overall process hydrogenation rate. Investigators increase the agitation
rate until the process kinetics no longer increase with
increasing agitation. This plateau at high rotation rates
is assumed to be the gas mass transfer independent
region of operation. Unfortunately, this approach is
not rigorous in determining if a process is independent
of gas mass transfer.
Often in small reactors, especially those that are
unbaffled, at high rotation rates, the process liquid
begins to form a vortex and begins to swirl, limiting
gas/liquid mixing and mass transfer. Under such
conditions the only process that may have been elucidated is the dependency and limitation of the gas
mass transfer coefficient at high agitation rates.
A more rigorous and consistent way to ensure experimentally that a process is independent of gas mass
transfer is to determine the effect of changing the kla
on the overall hydrogenation rate or to determine
the effect of changing the catalyst concentration on
the overall process rate.
For example, if changing the catalyst concentration
continues to impact a process rate in a linear manner,
then the process may be assumed to be independent of gas mass transfer. When gas mass transfer
becomes limiting, increasing the catalyst concentration will have little or no effect on the process rate.
No experimental method is absolutely unambiguous,
because catalyst concentration can also affect the
mass transfer coefficient and complex reaction chemistry may vary with catalyst concentration.
It is the responsibility of the investigator to explore
these variables as required.
Solid-Liquid Mass Transfer
Once hydrogen has entered the well-mixed bulk liquid
phase of the stirred reactor and as feed is added to
the liquid phase of the reactor, both the hydrogen and
nitrobenzene, in this case, must be transported from
the bulk liquid phase, according to Figure 1, to the
external surface of the solid catalyst particle.
This process is designated as liquid/ solid mass
transfer. When the substrate to be reduced, nitrobenzene, is in high concentration, then only the mass
transfer of hydrogen needs to be considered. However,
when the process is operated in a continuous or
semibatch manner under conditions in which the feed
is added sufficiently slowly to limit its accumulation,
then its mass transport to the catalyst must be considered as well. The rate of liquid to solid mass transfer can be expressed in the following equation:
Rate =
ks · As
VL (CS, bulk _ CH, interface)
(8)
where
ks =liquid/solid mass transfer coefficient [m/sec],
As =total solid/liq uid interfacial area in the reactor,
VL =reactor liquid volume,
CS,bulk, CS,interface = molar concentrations of nitrobenzene or hydrogen in the bulk liquid phase
and at the solid/liquid interface.
The parameters ks·As/VL can be combined into the
familiar mass transfer coefficient,
ks · As
VL
= ksa
(9)
For small catalyst particles, the mass transfer coefficient, ksa [sec–1], may be viewed as a fundamental
parameter describing the catalyst and to a lesser
extent the reactor system itself.
Unlike the kla, which is primarily a function of the
agitator and reactor design, agitation intensity, and
the physical properties of the fluid, the ksa in catalytic
systems is often dominated by the physical characteristics of the catalyst, i.e., particle size distribution,
particle shape and density.
ALR Application Note
While mixing intensity and reactor design can influence the ksa, for catalytic systems where dpi,cat.
<50 microns, the effect of reactor design and mixing
is minimal once a uniform catalyst suspension has
been achieved.
The solid/liquid surface area is determined exclusively
by the particle size distribution, the total amount of
catalyst in the system and the catalyst density.
Assuming that the catalyst particles can be approximated as spherical, the total solid/liquid surface area
can be determined by summing up the surface area
associated with each fraction of the particle size distribution according to the following:
Σ
As == ∑ As
As
Asi i
Asi =
mi ,cat
ρcat
·
(10)
6
dp i, cat
(11)
where
dpi,cat =diameter of catalyst particle,
mi,cat =mass of catalyst with the particle diameter,
dpi,cat,
Pcat =liquid-filled catalyst density.
A number of reviews and articles describe various
correlations used to estimate the liquid/solid mass
transfer14,20-22. Most liquid/solid mass transfer
correlations conform to the following relationship:
Sh = 2+C · Repia · Scb
(12)
where
Sh
ksi · dpi,cat/D,
ksi
=mass transfer coefficient for particles with
diameter dpi,cat,
D
=diffusivity of hydrogen or substrate in the
reaction liquid mass,
Repi =particle Reynolds Number for a catalyst
particle with diameter, dpi.cat,
Sc
=Schmidt Number, μ/(ρ·D),
μ, ρ =liquid-phase viscosity and density,
respectively,
a, b, C = dimensionless coefficients.
cussion of these theories is beyond the scope of this
paper and we will focus on estimates of Repi that can
provide a bound on the liquid/solid mass transfer rate
process. For catalyst systems with catalyst sizes less
than 50 microns, often one can let C = 0 and approximate Sh = 2. This estimate is especially good with
particles <10 microns. Not surprising the diffusivity is
often the most critical parameter impacting estimates
of the ksa so that sophisticated methods of calculating Repi are rendered futile without a reasonable
measure or estimate of the diffusivity. In this system
the diffusivity was estimated using the Stokes/Einstein
equation which can be used when limited information
is available for a system23. The Wilke-Chang estimation method can also be used for liquid systems23.
T
D = 1.05 · 10-9 ·
μ·
Vm1/3
(13)
where
Vm =molar volume of diffusing species at its
boiling point, (113 ml/gmole for nitrobenzene,
14.3 ml/gmole for hydrogen),
T = temperature in degrees Kelvin,
μ = liquid viscosity, (0.00263 Poise @ 140 °C for
14.3 % water in aniline),
D =3.4·10-5 cm2/sec @ 140 °C for nitrobenzene.
Kolmogoroff’s theory is based on the turbulent
eddy length, λ, which is given as
µ3
λ=
e v · ρ2
1
4
(14)
where
ev = Mixing energy per unit volume of the reactor
liquid reactor liquid
The Repi based on Kolmogoroff’s theory is given as
1
2
Repi = ev · dpi,cat4· ρ 3 ,for λ >> dpi,cat
µ
2
(15)
1
3
Repi = ev · dpi,cat4· ρ 3 ,for λ << dpi,cat
µ
2
The theories of mass transport differ most fundamentally in their attempts to define Repi using either
terminal velocity-slip velocity theory or Kolmogoroff’s
theory of local isotropic turbulence20. A complete dis-
ALR Application Note
Repi = dpi,cat · ρ ·
vc
µ3
,
[14]
(16)
where
vc = (ve2+v tp2+vs2)1/2,
ve = neutral particle relative velocity,
vtp = terminal particle velocity,
vs = slip velocity due to inertial differences between
the particles and fluid.
a wide range of process conditions can be effectively
explored. In our studies we investigated 8 barg,
11 barg and 14 barg total pressure at 100 °C, 120 °C,
140 °C and 160 °C.
Mass transfer coefficients based on a=1/2, b=1/3 according to Eqn 12.
Normalized ksaw
[1/(sec·wt % cat.)]
Basis for Repi
Mixing Energy
C, Eqn 12
0.40
––––––
––––––
0.00
0.48
Panicle terminal
velocity,
vc = v tp
––––––
0.72
0.61
Kolmogoroff’s
theory
1.0 watt/liter,
agitator
RC1/HP60
@ 1000,
rpm w/gas
0.40
0.74
Kolmogoroff’s
theory
10.0 watt/liter
0.40
Often for small particles we may assume for estimation purposes that vc = v tp.
The mass transfer coefficient for each population of
the catalyst distribution is given by
ksai = ksi · Asi
(17)
Table 2
Estimates of the´nitrobenzene mass transfer coefficient @ 140 °C.
Σksai
(18)
For convenience, we can define a solid/liquid mass
transfer coefficient that is normalized to the weight
percent of catalyst in the reaction mixture.
ksa =
ksa
wt % catalyst
(19)
The particle size distribution for sponge nickel catalyst
is illustrated in Figure 7 and is typical for this class
of catalyst. In Figure 8 the partial mass transfer coefficient based on variations of Equation 12 as indicated
is illustrated. The final net mass transfer coefficients
for the catalyst used are tabulated in Table 2 according to Equations 17, 18 and 19. For the terminal-slip
velocity theory example calculated in Table 2, the
velocity, vc, was assumed to be equal to the terminal
settling velocity, v tp. The terminal velocity was calculated according to Cheremisinoff22.
Pulse Kinetic Studies
An effective way of getting a broad perspective on
the kinetics in a particular system is to conduct pulse
experiments with the appropriate feed under the
desired conditions. It is generally easy to control temperature and pressure during pulse experiments and
20
100
15
75
10
50
5
25
0
0
2
5
10
20
50
100
200
Differential
Distribution
Cumulative
Distribution
0
500
Catalyst Particle Size, dp, microns
Figure 7
Sponge nickel catalyst particle size distribution (weight/volume average paticle size =
34.2 microns).
ksai (1/sec)/(Net Wt % Catalyst)
ksa =
Differential Weight %
and the total mass transfer coefficient can then be
calculated from
Cumulative
Weight %
The Repi based on the terminal velocity-slip velocity
is given as
0.16
Kolmogoroff’s
Theory
0.14
1 Watt/Liter
Net ksaw =
0.61 1/(sec Wt %)
0.12
0.10
Terminal/Slip
Velocity Theory
0.08
C = 0.72
Net ksaw =
0.48 1/(sec Wt %)
0.06
Sh = 2
Net ksaw =
0.40 1/(sec Wt %)
0.04
0.02
0.00
0
2
5
10
20
50
100
200
500
Catalyst Particle Size, dp, microns
Figure 8
Comparative distributions of the mass transfer coefficient for nitrobenzene and sponge
nickel catalyst.
ALR Application Note
A sample of the isoperibolic data is illustrated in
Figure 9. The data was renormalized at the end of the
feed addition and conformed within statistical limits
to a simple rate model, first order in nitrobenzene
and zero order in hydrogen, which is illustrated in
Figure 10 for experiments at 11 barg. Based on the
low overall kinetic rates during the pulse tests, the
complications of gas/liquid mass transfer can be
ignored. The rate data was normalized for the weight
percent of catalyst used and is illustrated in Table 3.
Reaction Rate, Watts
80
160 °C
140 °C
60
120 °C
100 °C
40
20
100
200
300
400
500
600
700
Time, Seconds
Figure 9
Exotherm profiles from feed pulse tests at 11 barg.
0.0
Temperature
Slope/Wt % Catalyst = k 1/ (sec Wt % )
-0.5
100 °C
-1.0
120 °C
-1.5
140 °C
160 °C
-2.0
-2.5
-3.0
-3.5
0
100
200
300
400
500
600
700
Time, Seconds
0.0958
0.100
0.482
0.690
0.0972
0.109
0.567
0.702
Table 3
Effect of temperature and pressure on nitrobenzene hydrogenation
rate constants.
The rate constants are plotted according to the traditional Arrhenius model in Figure 11 and as a function
of hydrogen solubility in Figure 12. There are two
points that should be noted in these plots.
First, the rate constants are not a function of the
hydrogen solubility as illustrated in Figure 12.
Secondly, there is a sharp transition in the reaction
rate constants between 120 °C and 140 °C. This
transition corresponds to the transition from a single
homogeneous liquid phase at 140 °C to a two-liquidphase region at 120 °C according to Figure 3. In the
single-phase region, the rate constants are a weak
function of temperature and show an activation energy
of 5.4 kcal/mole according to Figure 11.
1.0
Net System
Pressure
8.0 barg
0.5
11.0 barg
0.3
14.0 barg
0.2
0.1
0.05
2.3
2.3
2.4
2.5
-100 °C
0.117
0.146
0.467
0.661
-120 °C
14.0
-140 °C
11.0
-160 °C
8.0
Figure 10
First order rate analysis of nitrobenzene pulse test
(at 11.0 barg pressure w/ 0.05 % catalyst).
Rate Constant, 1/(Sec Wt % Catalyst)
Total system pressure [barg]
100 °C
120 °C
140 °C
160 °C
Reaction
Temperature
0
Normalized first order rate constants
in 14.3 % water/85.7 % aniline [1/(sec wt% cat.)]
Temperature
100
0
In {1-Thermal Coversion}
Unlike most studies that employ hydrogen uptake as a
measure of kinetics, we used isoperibolic calorimetry,
i.e., the reactor jacket maintained at the designated
temperature setpoint with the reaction exotherm
monitored continuously in the RC1/HP60 calorimetric
reactor. In this manner the hydrogen pressure can be
maintained constant during the reaction.
Nominal 3 gram pulses of 50 % aniline and 50 %
nitrobenzene (1500 ppm or 0.016 M nitrobenzene)
were added to the reactor between 5 and 20 seconds,
which contained 14.3 % water, 85.7 % aniline and
approximately 0.05 % catalyst.
2.6
2.7
1000/T(K)
Figure 11
Arrhenius plot of normalized nitrobenzene rate constants at different pressures.
This low activation energy is consistent with mass
transfer controlled processes. Recall that the normalized liquid/solid mass transfer coefficient for this
catalyst given in the previous section is between 0.40
and 0.61 1/(sec · wt % cat.), which is approximately
the measured rate constant at high temperature for
this process.
ALR Application Note
When operating under solid/liquid mass transfer
control, the effective concentration of nitrobenzene at
the catalyst solid/liquid interface is essentially zero,
according to Equation 8. This corresponds to surface
reaction kinetics that are infinitely fast compared to
the time scales of diffusion.
Under the two-phase region at and below 120 °C, the
rate was independent of both pressure and temperature and probably controlled by liquid/liquid mass
transfer or nitrobenzene solubility limits in the water
phase. Sponge nickel will generally favor the water
phase in a two-phase mixture. The low rate observed
in the two-phase region suggests that commercial
processes should be operated under single-phase
process conditions. It should also be noted that only
nitrobenzene was considered to be an active species
during these experiments and no other intermediates
were monitored.
Semibatch and Pseudocontinuous Operation and
Rate Analysis
The heat generation for highly exothermic reactions is
often difficult to control in batch processes. Therefore,
it is preferred to operate these reactions under semibatch or continuous addition of the feed. The overall
transient mass balance for species A in a CSTR is
given by the following expression for a simple process
reaction, A
B.
Rate Constant, 1/(Sec Wt % Catalyst)
This suggests that the process rate during the pulse
experiments is controlled by liquid/solid mass transfer.
1.00
Process
Temperature
140 °C
0.80
160 °C
0.60
0.40
0.20
0.00
0.005
0.010
0.015
0.020
0.025
Hydrogen Solubility, Mole/Liter
Figure 12
Effect of hydrogen concentration on normalized nitrobenzene rate constants.
the reactor volume during the semibatch experiment
can be assumed constant at the average fill volume,
Vr(average) = [Vr(initial) + Vr(final)]/2.
Also, if a continuous process is operated at very high
conversion, then Qout · Cout << Qin · Cin and Rate · Vr
and Qout · Cout ≈ 0. Then under these conditions the
design equations for the continuous and semibatch
processes are virtually identical:
dN
= (Qin· Cin)−(Rate ·Vr)
dt
(21)
Since it is generally desired to operate a CSTR at high
conversion, this analysis suggests that an effective
method to characterize a continuous process would
be operation of a semibatch process at high, instantaneous conversion, i.e., the concentration of A in the
reactor << Cin, to obtain process results that are similar when compared to a continuous operation. This
Acc.
In
Out
Reaction Rate
mode of operation for a semibatch reactor is called
dN
= (Qin· Cin)−(Qout· Cout) −(Rate·Vr) (18) pseudocontinuous operation. From an operational perdt
spective in the laboratory, semibatch operations yield
where
a large volume of information using very little material
N
=moles of A in the reactor,
and generating very little waste and are preferred over
Qin, Qout =incoming and exiting volumetric flow
true continuous operation whenever possible.
rates to the reactor,
Cin, Cout =incoming and exiting concentration of
A [moles/liter].,
Rate
=volumetric molar react. rate for A
B,
Vr
=liquid reactor volume, a function of time
during semibatch operation.
A reactor operated in semibatch mode requires that
Qout = 0. When a semibatch experiment is operated
over a narrow volume range such that Vr(initial) and
Vr(final) differ by less than approximately 20 %, then
ALR Application Note
10
As the feed ramps continue, the reaction rate begins
to deviate significantly from the theoretical rate based
on the feed rate. As the rate of nitrobenzene addition
increases, the reaction rate decreases and the accumulation of nitrobenzene in the reactor increases
dramatically. As the rate decreases with increasing
nitrobenzene concentration, the emergence of azoxybenzene is revealed in Figure 14. At this point the
process no longer conforms to pseudocontinuous
operation and the reaction mechanism begins to shift
to the second pathway described by Haber illustrated
in Figure 2.
Reaction Rate
@ 140 °C
14 barg, 0.05 %
Catalyst
Reaction Rate, Watts
280
240
Theoretical Feed
Controlled Rate
Infinitely
Fast Reaction
200
160
120
80
40
0
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Time, Minutes
Figure 13
Effect of feed rate on reaction rate during multiramp feed experiments:
comparison with theoretical feed controlled rate.
1.4
240
1.2
200
1.0
160
0.8
120
0.6
80
0.4
40
0.2
0
0.0
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Reaction Rate
Mass Feed
Added
Nitrobenzene
Azobenzene
Azoxybenzene
Wt %
Intemediates
Figure 14 illustrates the concentration profiles of two
intermediate species, azoxybenzene and azobenzene,
and nitrobenzene. During the first three steps in feed,
the only species identified was nitrobenzene.
This result is consistent with the first path of the Haber
reaction scheme, illustrated in Figure 2, and yields
high reaction rates when the feed is added continuously to maintain the nitrobenzene at low concentrations, < 0.1 %. It is also consistent with the pulse
test experiments, which demonstrate that under low
nitrobenzene concentration the rate processes are
controlled by liquid/solid mass transfer.
320
Reaction Rate, Watts
The application of this concept is best illustrated in
Figure 13. The RC1/HP60 reactor was filled to approximately 1 liter with 14.3 % water, 85.7 % aniline and
0.5 grams of catalyst. Six consecutive increasing
feed ramps of 50 % aniline/50 % nitrobenzene
were imposed. The reaction was run at 140 °C at 14.0
barg. Two curves are illustrated in Figure 13. The first
shows the theoretical maximum exotherm rate based
on the feed rates assuming that the reaction rate is
infinite and the second curve is the actual reaction
rate measured in watts.
As illustrated, during the first three feed ramps, the
reaction rate initially trailed the step changes in the
feed rate but eventually approached so that at the
rate plateaus, Qin · Cin = Rate · Vr. During these first
three step changes, accumulation of nitrobenzene was
minimal and the semibatch reactor was operating in
pseudocontinuous mode.
Note that the ksa estimated for this process is ksa =
0.5 1/(sec · wt % cat.) · 0.05 % catalyst =
0.025 (1/sec). This is one order of magnitude smaller
than the kla = 0.235 1/sec.
Time, Minutes
Figure 14
Accumulation of nitrobenzene and formation of intermediates
(140 °C, 14 barg, 0.05 % catalyst).
The process rate as a function of nitrobenzene concentration is illustrated in Figure 15 for the range of
operation before the appearance of intermediates.
This analysis is similar to that of Lopidana2 who
investigated the hydrogenation of nitrobenzene on
platinum catalysts. He shows that the linear portion
of the rate curve at low nitrobenzene concentration
is zero order with respect to hydrogen, as found in
this study during the pulse tests. In addition, he demonstrated that the plateau region of the rate curve is
obviously zero order with respect to nitrobenzene, yet
first order with respect to hydrogen.
ALR Application Note
11
Calculation of rates from the pulse experiments:
Rate [watts] = –ΔHreaction [J/mole] · k [sec -1 · wt %cat-1]
· Vr [liter] · Cnitrobenzene [M]
(22)
Note: 0.100 % nitrobenzene @ 140 °C = 0.00813 M
where
ΔHreaction
= Heat of reaction based on
nitrobenzene
(–536.6 ± 5.9 kJ/mole).
–1
–1
k(sec ·wt % cat. ) =Process rate constants from
pulse experiments.
Eventually, the feed is stopped for the run in Figures
13 and 14 and the process rate achieves a new yet
much lower overall value. At this point the reactor is
operating in a «batch» mode. The low rate is apparently caused by the affinity of nitrobenzene, azoxybenzene and perhaps azobenzene for the catalyst and
their competition with hydrogen for surface sites.
This «poisoning» of the catalyst by process intermediates and nitrobenzene must be avoided to maintain
high production rates. Not until the concentrations
of nitrobenzene and the intermediates have been
reduced does the rate begin to recover, increasing at
the end of the process.
Without the sensitive measurements of the heat generation curves, the overall reaction rates observed in
this regime may appear to be constant using conventional rate measurement techniques. This may explain
why many investigators report that under batch conditions at constant pressure, the reaction order is zero
with respect to nitrobenzene or conversion. From the
heat generation curves and concentration profiles,
this conclusion is obviously an oversimplification of
the rate process. These lower process rates at high
nitrobenzene concentration indicate that the process
has changed from liquid/solid mass transfer control to
a more complex, mixed control regime impacted most
likely by adsorption, interparticle mass transfer and
surface kinetics.
200
Process Rate, Watts
The process rates, calculated using Equation 22, from
the pulse experiments at 140 °C and 14 barg are
plotted in Figure 15. The rates are identical with those
observed from the pseudocontinuous operation at low
nitrobenzene concentration. This demonstrates that
under the pseudocontinuous operation, the reactor is
operating under liquid/solid mass transfer control.
Rate Based on Pulse Test
160
Mixed Control Region
Interparticle Mass Transfer,
Adsorption, Surface Kinetics
120
80
40
0
Solid/Liquid Mass Transfer Control
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
Concentration of Nitrobenzene, Wt %
Figure 15
Effect of nitrobenzene concentration on overall process rate
(140 °C, 14 barg, 0.05 % catalyst).
Scale-up Calculations
The maximum process rates may be estimated for
a variety of simplified cases. For example, the maximum rate based on the gas mass transfer assumes
that the bulk hydrogen concentration is equal to zero.
Although this situation is generally not desired in a
real process, it does give an upper limit on the maximum rate possible in a reactor system based on the
gas mixing. We can define the Ma ximum Gas Mass
Transfer Rate, MGMTR, as
MGMTR = kla · CH2,sat
(23)
In our system, at 140 °C and 1000 rpm,
MGMTR = 0.235 sec–1 · 0.0186 M,
MGMTR = 0.00437 moles hydrogen/(liter · sec).
In terms of reactor energy production,
MGMTR = kla · CH2,sat · ß–1 · –ΔHreaction
(24)
where
ß
=Stoichiometric factor, moles hydrogen/
moles substrate (ß = 3 for nitrobenzene).
MGMTR = 782 watts/liter in this study at 140 °C
at @ 1000 rpm.
The hydrogen in the bulk phase during the reaction
can be calculated by combining Equations 3 and 23
to get the following:
CH2,bulk = CH2,sat · (1–Rate/MGMTR)
(25)
Consider operating the reduction of nitrobenzene in a
large-scale reactor continuously with sufficient catalyst
and feed rate to give a steady-state energy production
ALR Application Note
12
rate of 300 watts/liter. If the reactor has a MGMTR of
600 watts/liter as calculated from Equation 23, then
the hydrogen concentration in the bulk at steady-state
can be estimated to be half of the saturation concentration based on Equation 25. To operate a laboratory
reactor at the same bulk hydrogen concentration conditions, either the pressure, the mass transfer coefficient or both must be adjusted according to equation
25 to match so that the following condition is met:
CH2,sat,1 · (1-Rate1/MGMTR1) =
CH2,sat,2 · (1-Rate2/MGMTR 2)
(26)
where the subscript 1 designates the scaled-up
reactor at pressure P1 and subscript 2 designates the
laboratory reactor at P2.
To achieve similar catalyst interfacial concentrations
of hydrogen and nitrobenzene in both the laboratory
reactor and the plant reactor, the reactor should be
operated at the same volumetric production rate and
catalyst concentration. As long as the bulk hydrogen
concentrations in both reactors are the same, then
the concentration profiles in the large reactor and the
laboratory will be equivalent.
Example:
It is desired to operate a large scale-up CSTR at
500 watts/liter, which corresponds to an aniline
production rate of 0.932 moles aniline/(m3·sec) or
0.000932 moles aniline/(liter · sec).
The reactor is operated continuously at 140 °C,
8 barg, with a volume of 1 m3, a kla of 0.5 sec–1 and
a feed of 50 % aniline/50 % nitrobenzene. Calculate
the bulk hydrogen concentration and the required
catalyst.
The MGMTR is calculated from Equations 23 and 24:
MGMTR = 0.5 sec–1·0.0090 M
= 0.0045 moles hydrogen/(sec liter)
MGMTR = 0.0045 moles hydrogen/(sec·liter)/3
· 536,600 J/mole nitrobenzene
= 805 watts/liter
CH2,bulk = (1–500/805) · 0.0090 M = 0.0034 M
To maintain operation in the low nitrobenzene range,
we chose to operate at 0.05 wt % or 0.004065 M
nitrobenzene in the reactor.
The process rate constant in this region of operation is
0.467 sec–1 · wt % cat.–1, according to Table 3.
The catalyst requirement can be calculated:
wt% catalyst = 0.000932 moles aniline/
(liter·sec)/(0.467 sec–1 · wt % cat.–1
· 0.004065 M nitrobenzene)
= 0.49 %
Conclusions
The hydrogenation of nitrobenzene is a complex
process impacted by the competing effects of mass
transfer and kinetics. These processes, however,
can be individually analyzed to reveal the controlling
mechanisms under different process conditions.
The reaction pathway according to Haber is determined by reactor process conditions. At high temperature and low nitrobenzene concentration, solid/liquid
mass transfer was found to dominate, yielding a process that could be operated at high rates. However, at
higher nitrobenzene concentration intermediates form,
which along with nitrobenzene poison the catalyst and
lead to low process rates.
References
1. McMurry, J., Organic Chemistry, Brooks/Cole
Publishing Company, Monterey, Calif., p. 961
(1984).
2. Rihani, D.N., T.K. Narayanan and L.K.
Doraiswamy, «Kinetics of Catalytic Vapor Phase
Hydrogenation of Nitrobenzene to Aniline»
I&EC Process Design and Development, Vol. 4,
No. 4, pp. 403-410 (1965).
3. Loppidana, M.A.A., et al., «Hydrogenation of
Aromatic Nitro Compounds with a
Pt/SiO2-AlPO4 Catalyst» Bull. Chem. Soc. Jpn.,
60, pp. 3415-3419 (1987).
4. Schorlemmer, C., «Reaction Kinetics of
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Vol. 83, pp. 796-799 (1961).
ALR Application Note
13
References
7. Yücelen, F., Thesis Dissertation, Effects of Mass
Transfer in Liquid Phase Catalytic Consecutive
Hydrogenation of 2,6-Dinitrotoluene, Swiss
Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1984).
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of Organic Reactions, edited by J. R. Kosak and
T. A Johnson, Albuquerque, New Mexico,
April 27-29, 1992.
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Rd., P.O. Box 71, Heightstown,
N.J. 08520-0071.
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13. Tatterson, G.B., Fluid Mixing and Gas Dispersion
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14. Ramachandran, P.A., and R.V. Chaudhari, ThreePhase Catalytic Reactors, Topics in Chemical
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15. Yagi, H., and F. Yoshida, «Gas Absorption
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Bubble Columns: Volumetric Liquid Phase Mass
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Journal, Vol. 11, No. I (1965).
Mettler-Toledo AutoChem Inc.
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©11/2007 Mettler-Toledo AG
Printed in Switzerland,
Marketing ALR
17. Kato, Y., et al., «Gas Holdup and Overall
Volumetric Absorption Coefficients in Bubble
Columns with Suspended Solid Particles.
Absorption Rate of Oxygen by an Aqueous
Solution of Sodium Sulfite», Intenrnational
Chemical Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 3 (1973).
18.Murugesan, T., and T. E. Degaleesan, «Holdup, Interfacial Area and Power Requirements in
Turbine Agitated Gas-Liquid Contactors», Chem.
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19. Dietrich, E., C. Mathieu, H. Delmas and
J. Jenck, «Raney-Nickel Catalyzed Hydrogenations: Gas-Liquid Mass Transfer in GasInduced Stirred Slurry Reactors», Chemical
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21. Beenackers, A.A.C.M., and W.P.M. Van Swaaij,
«Mass Transfer in Gas-Liquid Slurry Reactors»
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The Properties of Gases and Liquids, 3rd ed.,
McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York,
pg. 567 (1977).
This lecture was held at the 7th RC User Forum USA
in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida, in October 1994.
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