Catalyst preparation modeling: flow, diffusion and adsorption

Catalysts are almost invisible helpers, which allow us to speed up reactions and are used almost everywhere in production processes. Without them, our world would look really different. Especially for the manufacturing of products from renewable materials, they are indispensable. However, they are usually quite expensive and rare, like platinum, gold or silver. That is why we need to avoid waste and put exactly the right amount at exactly the right spot for them to do their job.

In this project, we want to understand better what exactly is keeping us from simply placing the catalyst perfectly inside a chemical reactor. For this purpose, we simulate the catalyst preparation process with the help of a computer. In this way, we can try many different recipes without actually wasting anything and we are way faster than doing the same in the laboratory! Also, those simulations let us to look deeply into the catalyst while it forms and allow us to learn more about how we can control this process.

Next to simulating production of the catalyst, we have also investigated the limitations of the underlying equations and challenged commonly used simplifications. As a result, we know now better, which equations are the most suitable for use in the simulation.

Project david rieder

Figure 1 Simulating the preparation of a catalyst pellet by capturing phenomena at the pore scale and upscaling those to pellet level. The goal is then to optimize the configuration of the catalyst pellet during the drying for specific chemical reactions.