Maleic anhydride production in a cross-flow reactor: A comparative study



The utilisation of cross-flow reactor (CFR) in maleic anhydride (MA) production by direct oxidation of n-butane is analysed. The CFR is described by a series of experimentally proven packed-bed reactor (PBR) segments with specific oxygen dosing for each segment. The MA is up to 35 higher in a CFR compared to a comparative PBR. However, increasing the number of oxygen feeding points, from 4 to 10, resulted in only a slight increase in yield. Moreover, the increase in reactor cooling bath temperature was found to raise the temperature inside the conventional reactor considerably; meanwhile, temperature increase in the corresponding CFR is limited. The use of different oxygen feeding policies; namely equal, increasing and decreasing policies, caused only a minor effect on CFR performance. The advantage in MA yield through use of CFR is diminished as the residence time increases. Since CFR can be safely operated with higher butane inlet concentrations and higher reactor temperature, it represents an interesting alternative for use at industrial-scale operation.