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What is hydrogenation reactor?

By WHGCM November 9th, 2023 178 views

I What is a hydrogenation reactor?

This blog post expounds on the meaning of the definition of hydrogenation reactors from multiple aspects for different classifications of hydrogenation reactors from several perspectives.


A hydrogenation reactor equipment is also named a hydrogenation reactor or reactor for hydrogenation and hydrogenation processes. Its working principle is to pressurize raw material gas or hydrogen into a closed container for chemical reaction, then discharge the reacted gas by venting. It is a reactor for deamination, hydrogenation, demercaptan, and dehydration to methanol and ethanol. The hydrogenation process is a chemical reaction unit process. Since hydrogen is not active, so to be equipped with catalysts, high temperatures, high pressure, and other conditions to react. Hydrogen reaction process, mainly through hydrogenation to change unsaturated organic matter into saturated organic matter, such as hydrogenation of benzene to cyclohexane for the manufacture of nylon; hydrogenation of fish oil to make hardened solid oil for storage and transportation; manufacturing The process of soap and glycerin is also a hydrogenation process. The hydrogenation reaction is a reversible, exothermic, and molecular number reduction reaction. According to the principle of Lu Chadley, low temperature, and high pressure are favorable for the hydrogenation reactor to move in the direction of the hydrogenation reaction in chemical equilibrium. The temperature required for the hydrogenation process depends on the activity of the catalyst used, and the one with higher activity can have a lower temperature. For the hydrogenation reaction with a small equilibrium constant under reaction temperature conditions (such as hydrogenation of methanol from carbon monoxide), to increase the equilibrium conversion rate, the reaction process needs to run under high pressure, and it is also beneficial to increase the reaction rate. The excess hydrogen can not only speed up the reaction speed and increase the conversion rate of hydrogenated substances but also facilitate the export of reaction heat. Excess hydrogen can be recycled. The hydrogenolysis reaction process mainly replaces the hydrogen in the organic matter in the form of hydrogen gas. For example, the most difficult-to-use heavy part of the petroleum industry is to hydrogenate residual oil into gasoline and diesel. Generally, the hydrogenation reactor is a stirring reaction device for chemical reactions of gas-liquid, liquid-liquid, liquid-solid, or gas-liquid-solid three-phase chemical materials. The hydrogenation reactor can stir various chemical materials under high pressure, temperature, high vacuum, and other conditions to enhance the mass transfer and heat transfer process. Many flammable, explosive, toxic, precious, and other media can be mixed and reacted under high temperature, high pressure, high vacuum, and other conditions.


1、According to the heating method, there are three types: electric heating, steam heating, and hot water heating.
2、According to the purpose, they are two types: general reactor and particular reactor.
3、According to the phase state of raw materials, two categories:
3.1 The liquid-phase hydrogenation process is usually for high-boiling liquid or solid (the solid needs to be dissolved in a solvent or heated to melt) raw materials, such as oil hydrogenation, heavy oil hydrocracking, etc. Liquid-phase hydrogenation works under pressure and can be batch or continuous. Batch liquid-phase hydrogenation often adopts a pressure vessel or a bubble reactor with a stirring device. Continuous liquid-phase hydrogenation can use a trickle bed or tubular reactor with a three-phase continuous flow of gas, liquid, and solid.
3.2 Another type of reactor is the gas-phase continuous hydrogenation process, such as atmospheric pressure gas-phase hydrogenation of benzene to cyclohexane, carbon monoxide high-pressure gas-phase hydrogenation to methanol, etc. The type of reactor can be tubular or tower. Under high temperatures and high pressure, hydrogen and carbon atoms in the steel can combine to form methane, making the steel brittle. It is hydrogen corrosion. Therefore, the high-pressure hydrogenation reactor must use alloy steel. Hydrogen is a flammable and explosive substance. We must use safety measures in the hydrogenation process.
4、According to the production structure of the reactor, there are three categories: open flat cover reactor, open butt welding flange reactor, and closed test reactor. WHGCM is a China reactor manufacturer, having a professional technical research and development team led by experts who have been in the industry for 40 years, specializing in the design, manufacture, and sale of reaction vessels, high-pressure reactors, autoclaves, hydrogenation autoclaves, stainless steel autoclaves, and acid- and alkali-resistant autoclaves. From the stage of reaction laboratory to pilot test to industrial production, we have accumulated a lot of engineering experience and meet customers' demands. WHGCM can realize modular customization reactor design. There are several stirring types, such as anchor, paddle, turbocharger, booster, or strip. When the height and diameter of the stirring equipment are relatively large, we'd like to recommend using double-layer stirring blades.
5、As per the sealing forms of hydrocracking reactors, there are three types,  rotary seal, mechanical seal, and magnetic seal. The refrigeration method is collet refrigeration and fan coil refrigeration in the kettle. Hydrogenation reactor body materials can be carbon-manganese steel, various grades of stainless steel, titanium and titanium alloys, nickel, Hastelloy, zirconium, and its composite materials. Users can customize the material of the parts, like the hydrogenation reaction kettle, the size and quantity of openings on the kettle body and the lid, the heating method, the structure inside the kettle, the stirring speed, and the form of the stirrer blades. The inner surface of the hydrogenation reaction kettle can reach the level of mirror polishing for the inner surface of the kettle that requires polishing. It can be a conical bottom for high-viscosity materials, which is convenient for feeding and cleaning. In addition, the hydrogenation reactor produced by WHGCM adopts a magnetic coupling static seal design. The rotation of the external magnet driven by the motor is transmitted to the internal magnet by magnetic action. Then the internal magnet drives the stirring shaft and blade, making agitation happen. The internal magnetic steel is sealed with the reactor tank by a sealing isolation sleeve. It has good static sealing performance, low stirring torque, no leakage, high temperature, fast stirring speed, stable operation, low noise, high pressure, high vacuum, and is easy to use. Under high temperature, high pressure, high vacuum, high speed, suspension, and convection, the reaction medium can be statically sealed in the autoclave, so can carry out reactions of flammable, explosive, highly toxic, and other harsh mediums. It fundamentally solves the shaft seal leakage problem, which couldn't be solved by packing seals or mechanical seals. It has no leakage or pollution, with long service life, and is maintenance-free. At the same time, the electrical parts adopt an explosion-proof design. For example, the motor adopts an explosion-proof motor, the heater adopts explosion-proof heating, and the temperature measuring sensor and pressure sensor all use explosion-proof to prevent sparks and effectively avoid the occurrence of an explosion.
A table illustrating what a hydrogenation reactor is:
Reactant phase state Gas-liquid  liquid-liquid liquid-solid gas-liquid-solid
Reaction conditions (one or more) high pressure high temperature high vacuum
Reactant hydrogen, catalyst, and materials mixed by high-speed stirring 
Reaction Vessel Volume 0.1-10,000 liters
Operating pressure 0 to 35Mpa
Seal type statically sealed
Medium type  flammable, explosive, toxic, or precious medium
Stirring type self-priming stirrer and/or disc turbine type or propelling stirring paddle etc.
Structure Open Closed
For small-size hydrogenation reactors, using open type flat cover end flange structure Regarding large size, the closed type with a manhole structure is more suitable for cost-saving purposes.
Inner surface roughness It can reach the mirror polishing level if internal vessel roughness is required.
Conical bottom Suitable for high-viscosity material
Catalyst It is generally palladium carbon, nickel powder, or activated carbon
Vessel material Carbon manganese steel, various grades of stainless steel, titanium and titanium alloy, nickel, Hastelloy, zirconium, and its composite materials, etc.
Heating method Jacketed steam  Jacketed thermal oil electric heating  Jacketed oil bath circulation Far infrared
Hydrogenation reactor advantages Under high temperature, high pressure, high vacuum, high speed, suspension, and convection, the reaction medium is in a static sealed state in the autoclave to safely carry out the reaction of flammable, explosive, highly toxic, and other harsh media.
Examples of hydrogenation reactions in industry  Methanol synthesis by carbon monoxide hydrogenation Atmospheric pressure gas-phase hydrogenation of benzene to cyclohexane Oil and grease hydrogenation hydrocracking of heavy oils
To see more hydrogenation reactor samples, pls click here.
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