"A unique feature of the Stevens approach is the incorporation of highly engineered catalytic reactor wall via nanostructured thin-film," says Prof. Adeniyi Lawal of the Stevens Department of Chemical, Biomedical and Materials Engineering (CBME), the principal investigator for both projects.
The first project ($1.6 million), the execution of which began in September 2002, involves the design and demonstration of a microchannel reactor system for on-site production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) by controlled reaction between H2 and O2. H2O2 is commercially manufactured at 70wt% concentration; however, most commercial applications use 15wt% concentration. End users have increasingly become interested in the concept of onsite, on-demand H2O2 generation to reduce transportation, storage, and dilution costs.
However, combining H2 and O2 in conventional reactor systems is not feasible at H2 concentrations above 5vol%, as the mixture becomes flammable and even explosive. At low H2 concentrations, very high pressures are required, rendering the process energy inefficient. One approach is onsite direct combination with low-pressure operating conditions, which uses a microchannel reactor.
These reactors possess extremely high surface-to-volume ratios and exhibit enhanced heat and mass transfer rates which enable rapid wall quenching of free radicals that in conventional-size reactors lead to thermal runaway conditions and concomitant explosion. The microchannel reactor thus allows for H2 concentrations above 5vol% w
Contact: Patrick A. Berzinski
Stevens Institute of Technology