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Reaction Temperature Manipulation as a Process Intensification Approach for CO2 Absorption

by Jorge Gabitto, Constantinos Tsouris
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Reactor temperature manipulation to increase product yields of chemical reactions is a known technique used in many industrial processes. In the case of exothermic chemical reactions, the well-known Le Chatelier’s principle predicts that a decrease in temperature will displace the chemical reaction toward the formation of products by increasing the value of the equilibrium constant. The reverse is true for endothermic reactions. Reactor temperature manipulation in an industrial system, however, affects the values of many variables, including physical properties, transport parameters, reaction kinetic parameters, etc. In the case of reactive absorption, some variables change with increasing temperatures due to solute absorption, while others change in such a way that the solute absorption rate decreases. For example, temperature drop increases product formation for exothermic reactions but reduces the value of transport parameters, leading to decreasing interfacial concentrations and absorption rates. Therefore, temperature manipulation strategies must be designed carefully to achieve the process goals. In this work, we theoretically study the use of temperature as a tool to increase CO2 absorption by solvents in a semi-batch reactor. A computer code has been developed and validated using reported experimental data. Calculated results demonstrate an increase in absorbed CO2 of more than 28% with respect to the highest temperature used. Despite high agitation and high gas flow rate, the system is mass transfer controlled at short times, becoming kinetically controlled as time increases. An operating strategy to decrease cooling energy costs is also proposed. This study reveals that reactor temperature manipulation can be an effective process to improve CO2 absorption by solvents in two-phase semi-batch reactors.