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Effect of radial temperature profiles on yields in steam cracking

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Abstract

Radial temperature profiles during steam cracking result in radial nonuniformities in the product yields due to radial variations in the concentration of the radicals. The effect of using a 1-D or a 2-D reactor model on the calculated product yields is evaluated for the cracking of ethane. With a 2-D reactor model the simulated ethylene yield decreases. Ethylene formed at the high-temperature zone near the hot wall diffuses to the center where secondary reactions are favored, generating C3 and C4 olefins. This effect is confirmed by the calculation of a reactor of a Kellogg Millisecond Furnace. In this small-diameter reactor the 1-D behavior is more pronounced, resulting in higher ethylene yields at comparable conversions. The effect of the radial gradients on the coking rate calculated with a fundamental kinetic coking model based on elementary reaction steps is even more pronounced. Only when the coke model is coupled to a 2-D reactor model, a good agreement with the reference data is observed. In order to obtain accurate simulation results the more detailed 2-D reactor model is required, even if this increases the computational effort. © 2004 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 50: 173–183, 2004

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