CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP), Dehradun, has developed micro-channel reactors with stable catalyst coating formulations that are used to intensify the processes involving vegetable oils. These reactors have great impact on the product yield and conversion in hydroprocessing of vegetable oils.
The micro-channel reactors find immediate applications as a tool to intensify the process at places where there is inadequate supply of raw material (biomass); where transportation of (feedstock) fossil fuels is a problem. All this is possible mainly due to excellent mixing, controlled reaction environment, and energy efficiency enabled by these micro-channel reactors.
“The micro-channel reactors are better than the conventional (fixed bed tubular reactors) reactors in terms of: hydrodynamics and heat and mass transfer,” Dr. Anil Kumar Sinha, Scientist, CSIR-IIP said. Due to better hydrodynamics, the wall effect channeling etc. in micro-channel reactors is zero. Moreover, the high surface-to-volume ratio provides better heat control, which in turn ensures proper product distribution. The catalyst used in a micro-channel reactor is either coated on the wall or packed inside the channel. The amount of material required for micro-channel reactor, the catalyst cost and the operating cost are far less than that in case of conventional reactors.
CSIR-IIP is using micro-channel reactors to convert non-edible oil and biomass-derived oil (pyrolysis-oil), biomass-derived gases (syn-gas) and coal derived gasses (Coal gasification to syn-gas) into second and third generation biofuel.Onsite gasification of coal and biomass to produce syn-gas and then conversion of the syn-gas to di-methyl ether or α-higher olefins in micro-channel reactors and utilizing these micro-channels for hydro-conversion of long chain hydrocarbons to transportation fuels, is another area of development for small scale process viable near the source of the feedstocks.
“At CSIR-IIP, process intensification for hydroprocessing of vegetable oils was achieved using micro-channel and monolithic reactors with a thin layer of catalyst coating. Use of such reactors resulted in improved reaction selectivity and throughput,” Dr Sinha said.