Design of mixed conducting ceramic membranes/reactors for the partial oxidation of methane to syngas



The performance of mixed conducting ceramic membrane reactors for the partial oxidation of methane (POM) to syngas has been analyzed through a two-dimensional mathematical model, in which the material balance, the heat balance and the momentum balance for both the shell and the tube phase are taken into account. The modeling results indicate that the membrane reactors have many advantages over the conventional fixed bed reactors such as the higher CO selectivity and yield, the lower heating point and the lower pressure drop as well. When the methane feed is converted completely into product in the membrane reactors, temperature flying can take place, which may be restrained by increasing the feed flow rate or by lowering the operation temperature. The reaction capacity of the membrane reactor is mainly determined by the oxygen permeation rate rather than by the POM reaction rate on the catalyst. In order to improve the membrane reactor performance, reduction of mass transfer resistance in the catalyst bed is necessary. Using the smaller membrane tubes is an effective way to achieve a higher reaction capacity, but the pressure drop is a severe problem to be faced. The methane feed velocity for the operation of mixed conducting membrane reactors should be carefully regulated so as to obtain the maximum syngas yield, which can be estimated from their oxygen permeability. The mathematical model and the kinetic parameters have been validated by comparing modeling results with the experimental data for the La0.6Sr0.4Co0.2Fe0.8O3-α (LSCF) membrane reactor. © 2009 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2009