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Chemical Blog Posts

Simulating an Ideal Stirred Tank Reactor System

February 24, 2015

Continuous stirred tank reactors (CSTRs), or ideal stirred tank reactors, are frequently used in the chemical and biochemical industries. This reactor type operates at steady state and because of its good mixing properties, it is assumed that the composition throughout the reactor is uniform. Using a new model in the Reaction Engineering interface, we can visualize the dynamics within an ideal system of tank reactors.

New and Revamped Chemical Engineering Interfaces

February 13, 2015

Many exciting features for chemical engineering modeling were introduced in COMSOL Multiphysics version 5.0. In this blog post, I will discuss the most important updates. There are some new modeling interfaces, such as the Chemistry interface, and some that have been revamped and improved, like the Reaction Engineering interface. To begin with, I will recap the modeling interfaces for reaction engineering and mass transport.

Why Car Batteries Perform Poorly in Cold Weather

February 5, 2015

Starting the car on a cold winter morning can be unpleasant if you have not been proactive the night before. When you are unable to start an engine, it is often the battery’s fault. Why is a battery more sensitive than other processes in a car? The answer lies in the battery’s ability to convert chemical energy into electrical energy, with a minimum of heat generation, and the relatively small amounts of thermal energy available at low temperatures.

Modeling Approaches in Heterogeneous Catalysis

February 3, 2015

Modeling of heterogeneous catalysis traditionally attracts great interest from the chemical engineering community, due to the many industrial processes that utilize this type of catalysis. Here, we discuss the procedure of starting with detailed micro-geometries and then proceeding with approximations through homogenization. By following this procedure, from the microscopic particle level to the macroscopic reactor level, we can design the catalyst in detail and study the influence of this design on the total reactor performance.

Electroplating Simulations for Printed Circuit Board Designers

December 17, 2014

The printed circuit board (PCB) is the heart of almost any electronic product, carrying the components and copper wires supporting its functionality. The manufacture often involves electroplating, a process that can vary between designs. This leaves you, the engineer behind its simulation and optimization, constantly creating new models. What if you could push much of this work onto the designers, engineers, and technicians behind its design and manufacture, having them run their own electroplating simulations for PCBs? See how here.

Apps for Teaching Mathematical Modeling of Tubular Reactors

November 21, 2014

The Tubular Reactor application is a tool where students can model a nonideal tubular reactor, including radial and axial variations in temperature and composition, and investigate the impact of different operating conditions. It also exemplifies how teachers can build tailored interfaces for problems that challenge the students’ imagination. The model and exercise are originally described in Scott Fogler’s book Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering. I wish I had access to this type of tool when I was a student!

Multiscale Reactors: Cleaning the Flows

November 3, 2014

Probably the most common reactor in the chemical industry is the packed bed reactor. This reactor is used in chemical synthesis and for effluent treatment and catalytic combustion. Oftentimes, heterogeneous catalysis requires packed beds. A common design is a cylindrical column filled with catalyst pellets. The pellets can be contained within supporting structures, like tubes or channels, or packed in a single compartment in the column. The latter is called dumped packing.

Modeling Hydrodealkylation in a Membrane Reactor

October 27, 2014

The design of the reactor used in hydrodealkylation can have a significant impact on the overall yield and selectivity of the conversion product. In this blog post, we use modeling and simulation to investigate the advantages of using a membrane reactor.