• pattern formation;
  • symmetric spatiotemporal patterns;
  • periodically forced reactors;
  • loop reactor;
  • simulated moving bed;
  • networks of reactors;
  • temperature fronts;
  • wave trains


Networks of N identical catalytic reactors with periodically switched inlet and outlet sections are studied for first-order irreversible exothermic reactions. Switching strategies with inlet and outlet sections periodically jumping a fixed number ns of reactors are considered and the mechanisms governing the formation of traveling temperature wave-trains are analyzed as ns and N are varied. To this aim, a geometric approach to the analysis of the network energy balance is developed. Based on this approach, infinite domains of traveling temperature wave-trains are predicted for any ns and N. Analytical approximations are derived for the stability limits and the spatiotemporal patterns of these regimes. Stability boundaries predicted analytically include for any solution the largest part of the stability region computed by numerical simulation. Moreover, good agreement is found between the structure of the spatiotemporal patterns computed numerically and that predicted based on the proposed approach. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2012