Approximating catalyst effectiveness factors with reaction rate profiles

Ville Alopaeus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
214 Downloads (Pure)


A novel approximate solution for catalyst effectiveness factors is presented. It is based on carefully selected approximate reaction rate profiles, instead of typical assumption of composition profiles inside the catalyst. This formulation allows analytical solution of the approximate model, leading to a very simple iterative solution for effectiveness factor for general nonlinear reaction stoichiometry and arbitrary catalyst particle shape. The same model can be used with all practical Thiele modulus values, including multicomponent systems with inert compounds. Furthermore, the correct formulation of the underlying physical model equation is discussed. It is shown that an incorrect but often-used model formulation where convective mass transfer has been neglected may lead to much higher errors than the present approximation. Even with a correctly formulated physical model, rigorous discretization of the catalyst particle volume may have unexpectedly high numerical errors, even exceeding those with the present approximate solution. The proposed approximate solution was tested with a number of examples. The first was an equimolar reaction with first order kinetics, for which analytical solutions are available for the standard catalyst particle geometries (slab, long cylinder, and sphere). Then, the method was tested with a second order reaction in three cases: (1) with one pure reactant, (2) with inert present, and (3) with two reactants and non-stoichiometric surface concentrations. Finally, the method was tested with an industrially relevant catalytic toluene hydrogenation including Maxwell-Stefan formulation for the diffusion fluxes. In all the tested systems, the results were practically identical when compared to the analytical solutions or rigorous finite volume solution of the same problem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number255
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Catalyst
  • Convection
  • Diffusion
  • Discretization
  • Effectiveness factor
  • Reactive systems


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