Ethylbenzene dehydrogenation into styrene: kinetic modeling and reactor simulation



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Texas A&M University


A fundamental kinetic model based upon the Hougen-Watson formalism was derived as a basis not only for a better understanding of the reaction behavior but also for the design and simulation of industrial reactors. Kinetic experiments were carried out using a commercial potassium-promoted iron catalyst in a tubular reactor under atmospheric pressure. Typical reaction conditions were temperature = 620oC, steam to ethylbenzene mole ratio = 11, and partial pressure of N2 diluent = 0.432 bar. Experimental data were obtained for different operating conditions, i.e., temperature, feed molar ratio of steam to ethylbenzene, styrene to ethylbenzene, and hydrogen to ethylbenzene and space time. The effluent of the reactor was analyzed on-line using two GCs. Kinetic experiments for the formation of minor by-products, i.e. phenylacetylene, ????-methylstyrene, ????-methylstyrene, etc, were conducted as well. The reaction conditions were: temperature = 600oC ~ 640oC, a molar ratio of steam to ethylbenzene = 6.5, and partial pressure of N2 diluent = 0.43 bar and 0.64 bar. The products were analyzed by off-line GC. The mathematical model developed for the ethylbenzene dehydrogenation consists of nonlinear simultaneous differential equations in multiple dependent variables. The parameters were estimated from the minimization of the multiresponse objective function which was performed by means of the Marquardt algorithm. All the estimated parameters satisfied the statistical tests and physicochemical criteria. The kinetic model yielded an excellent fit of the experimental data. The intrinsic kinetic parameters were used with the heterogeneous fixed bed reactor model which is explicitly accounting for the diffusional limitations inside the porous catalyst. Multi-bed industrial adiabatic reactors with axial flow and radial flow were simulated and the effect of the operating conditions on the reactor performance was investigated. The dynamic equilibrium coke content was calculated using detailed kinetic model for coke formation and gasification, which was coupled to the kinetic model for the main reactions. The calculation of the dynamic equilibrium coke content provided a crucial guideline for the selection of the steam to ethylbenzene ratio leading to optimum operating conditions.