Relationship between pellet size and performance of catalysts



The effect of mass transfer resistance in reducing the effectiveness of porous catalysts has been known since the publication of Thiele's classical paper in 1939. The variation in temperature caused by resistance to heat transfer may bring about equally significant changes in effectiveness in some cases. An extension of Thiele's treatment to take exact account of heat transfer resistance leads to a set of nonlinear differential equations that can only be solved numerically.

This paper presents an approximate treatment of the simulataneous effects of resistances to mass and heat transfer. With the limitations imposed by linearizing the equations the formulas derived give the activity and selectivity for any combination of reactions. The use of the results is illustrated by three examples. It is shown that the principal effects are associated with the variation of concentration within the pellet of catalyst and with the difference in temperature between the surface of the pellet and the bulk fluid.