The research of a novel system for chemical reactors based on thermodynamic models creates novel possibilities for the optimization in chemical production processes and is the starting point of the project. The problem in CAT-SAVE is that in the interior of continuous chemical reactors, in which phase transitions occur during the reaction, thermodynamic conditions as well as compositions of the process stream are subject to such strong local and temporal changes, that it is currently not possible to determine the states within the chemical reactor on the basis of measurable entry and exit conditions via software sensors. This poses a considerable risk with regard to product quality and process reliability. In particular, exothermic processes often have temperature peaks inside a reactor, which destroy catalysts and components or adversely affect their service life.

Therefore, a new approach is required for the process industry in the area of sensor technology, which makes it possible, on the basis of exact thermodynamic models, to predict the progress of the reaction in the plant. Since the chemical production technique is often a multicomponent mixture with up to more than a hundred individual components, the modelling for the sensor system within the reactor is complex, since the phase equilibria of the multicomponent mixture must also be modelled with the reaction progress.

Based on this problem the following objectives arise:

  • Investigation of a sensor-based method based on a real chemical reactor of a petrochemical production plant, which allows to calculate the pressure, temperature, phase conditions and compositions of a process flow within a multi-phase reactor
  • Real-time visualization of the key parameters
  • Avoiding destructive temperature peaks as well as undesired by-product formation
  • Optimization of plant throughputs, accounting for material life and catalyst life cycles
  • Increase of the throughput-related catalyst life cycle by up to 10% in the reference plant

Involved Organizations

  • Prozess Optimal CAP GmbH


Financial support by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)  is gratefully acknowledged.

Thomas Wallek
Assoc.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn.

Institut für Chemische Verfahrenstechnik und Umwelttechnik
Inffeldgasse 25/C/III
8010 Graz

+43 316 873 - 7966
+43 (316) 873 - 7469
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01/2018 – 06/2019