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Process Experiments

Stirred, not shaken!

Blending and reaction in stirred tanks are frequent operations in several industries. These devices' operation can involve a multitude of complex and simultaneous phenomena, as well as both homogeneous and heterogeneous reactions.

Achieving the desired degree of blending or dispersion, or reaction yield, while reducing side-reactions, requires the appropriate setting of operating conditions and mechanical design parameters.

Since the flow in stirred reactors can depend on numerous interacting phenomena, their simulation using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools can prove to be a quite challenging task.

At IFPEN, CFD has been used for the simulation of stirred reactors, both at the pilot and industrial plant scales. It has been providing a better understanding of their way of operation that can lead to changes in design choices or in operating conditions, resulting in the intensification of process.

One example of experimentation intensification concerns stirred tank reactors for kinetic testing of commercial catalysts in liquid or two-phase gas/liquid media. This equipment produces a highly complex turbulent and multiphase flow.

However, it is essential to ensure that mixing or mass transfer are not affecting the value determined for the reaction rate, especially for fast reactions.

CFD is being used to simulate the flow under different conditions, what allows defining regimes of kinetic control, on which the true reaction rate can be measured.

Generally speaking, the use of computational modeling significantly reduces the need for experimentation. This approach also offers an important alternative to empirical design rules, with undeniable benefits in terms of project development time and cost.


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Written in collaboration with Claudio Fonte
and published in Issue 18 of the information letter Science@ifpen - October 2014


  • C.P. Fonte, B.S. Pinho, V. Santos-Moreau, J.C.B. Lopes. Prediction of the Induced Gas Flow Rate from a Self-Inducing Impeller with CFD. Chemical Engineering & Technology, 2014, 37 (4), 571–79.
    >> DOI:10.1002/ceat.201300412
  • V. Santos-Moreau, L. Brunet-Errard, M. Rolland, Numerical CFD simulation of a batch stirred tank reactor with stationary catalytic basket. Chemical Engineering Journal, 2012, 207-208, 596-606.
    >> DOI:10.1016/j.cej.2012.07.020

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