• thermally coupled fluidised bed reactor;
  • DE optimisation approach;
  • two-phase theory of fluidisation;
  • catalytic naphtha reformer;
  • octane boosting;
  • heat exchanger reactor


The present study combines simultaneously the definition of fluidisation and process intensification (thermally coupled heat exchanger reactor) concept and determines the optimum operational conditions in both sides of the reactor, using Differential Evolution (DE) optimisation approach. The exothermic hydrogenation of nitrobenzene to aniline takes place in a set of tubular reactors which is placed inside the naphtha reactors and thermally handle the endothermic reaction of reforming. A single objective function consists of four terms including aromatic mole fraction of the reformate and hydrogen production from each reactor in the endothermic side as well as the total molar flow rate of aniline and nitrobenzene conversion in the exothermic side is defined. Seven decision variables such as inlet temperature of exothermic and endothermic sides, exothermic molar flow rates for the first and the second reactors and the number of tubes are considered during the optimisation procedure. Temperature constraints have been considered in both sides during the optimisation in order to reduce the possibility of rapid catalyst deactivation by sintering. Results show approximately 464.4 and 598.9 kg/h increase in aromatic and aniline production rates in optimised thermally coupled fluidised bed naphtha reactor (OTCFBNR) compared with non-optimised case (TCFBNR), respectively. Such a theoretical study is necessary prior to designing new pilot plants and revamping industrial units. © 2011 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering