Modeling of Packed Bed Reactors: Hydrogen Production by the Steam Reforming of Methane and Glycerol

A. Dixon[1], B. MacDonald[1], A. Olm[1]
[1]Department of Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, USA

The conventional route to hydrogen production is by steam reforming of methane (MSR) in a multitubular packed bed. With the increasing use of biodiesel as a renewable fuel, interest has grown in steam reforming of the excess glycerol produced as a side product (GSR).

We use COMSOL Multiphysics® software to model a tubular packed bed reactor, solving a single pellet model at each point. The two reforming reactions involve significant changes in moles. The impact of the mole changes in the absence of heat effects in a one-dimensional tube model with a coupled single particle model is presented. The equations are formulated in terms of mole fractions, and then equations for the evolution of the mean molar mass are included.