Reaction Kinetics, Mechanisms and Catalysis

, Volume 126, Issue 2, pp 1027–1054 | Cite as

Simulation of commercial fixed-bed reactor for maleic anhydride synthesis: application of different kinetic models and industrial process data

  • Ivan PetricEmail author
  • Ervin Karić


In this study, we have developed a relatively simple mathematical model capable of both simulating the synthesis of maleic anhydride from n-butane in industrial fixed-bed reactor and determining the influences of inlet process parameters on reactor performance. Ten kinetic models were used, and each of them was used in combination with a simplified reactor model. The validation of the developed mathematical model was performed using three process data sets with five process parameters obtained from industrial fixed-bed reactor. The simulation results showed a good agreement with the measured values for three kinetic models. The most influential inlet process parameters are inlet flow rates of n-butane and oxygen. The maleic anhydride yield is more sensitive to the changes of inlet process parameters than n-butane conversion and maleic anhydride selectivity. By increasing the inlet molar flow of n-butane for 20%, n-butane conversion and maleic anhydride yield are decreased for 3.3% and 5.0%, while maleic anhydride selectivity is increased for 6.7%. In order to increase the selectivity of maleic anhydride, it is necessary to decrease the inlet temperature of reaction mixture, the inlet pressure of reaction mixture as well as the inlet molar flow of oxygen, and to increase the inlet molar flow of n-butane.


Kinetic model Reactor model n-Butane Maleic anhydride Industrial fixed-bed reactor Simulation 



Surface of heat exchange (m2)


Cross section of reactor tube (m2)


External surface area of particle (m2)


Area of heat exchange A per unit volume of reactor V (m−1)


Concentration of n-butane (kmol/m3)


Concentration of oxygen (kmol/m3)


Concentration of maleic anhydride (kmol/m3)


Concentration of carbon dioxide (kmol/m3)


Concentration of water (kmol/m3)


Concentration of carbon monoxide (kmol/m3)


Specific heat capacity of n-butane (kJ/(kmol K))


Specific heat capacity of oxygen (kJ/(kmol K))


Specific heat capacity of maleic anhydride (kJ/(kmol K))


Specific heat capacity of carbon dioxide (kJ/(kmol K))


Specific heat capacity of water (kJ/(kmol K))


Specific heat capacity of carbon monoxide (kJ/(kmol K))


Specific heat capacity of component i (kJ/(kmol K))


Concentration of component i (kmol/m3)


Total inlet concentration of reaction mixture (kmol/m3)


Effective diameter of particle in the bed (m)


Inner diameter of reactor tube (mm)


Activation energy (kJ/kmol)


Molar flow of n-butane (kmol/h)


Molar flow of oxygen (kmol/h)


Molar flow of maleic anhydride (kmol/h)


Molar flow of carbon dioxide (kmol/h)


Molar flow of water (kmol/h)


Molar flow of carbon monoxide (kmol/h)


Molar flow of component i (kmol/h),


Total molar flow of reaction mixture (kmol/h)


Total molar flow of reaction mixture at reactor inlet (kmol/h)


Inlet molar flow of n-butane (kmol/h)


Inlet molar flow of oxygen (kmol/h)


Superficial mass velocity (m/s)


Rate constant in equations (12a) (mol L/(gcat h))


Rate constant in equations (12b) (mol L/(gcat h))


Rate constant in equations (12c) (mol L/(gcat h))


Rate constant in equations (15a) (kmol/(kgca s Pa))


Rate constant in equations (15b) (kmol/(kgcat s Pa))


Rate constant in equations (15c) (kmol/(kgcat s Pa))


Adsorption equilibrium constant for n-butane (L/mol)


Desorption constant (Pa−1)


Pre-exponential factor (various units)


Inhibition factor (–)


Inhibition factor (–)


Sorption constant (Pa−1)


Length of reactor tube (m)


Mass flow of reaction mixture (kg/h)


Molar mass of component i (kg/kmol)


Molar mass of mixture (kg/kmol)


Partial pressure of n-butane (atm)


Partial pressure of oxygen (atm)


Partial pressure of maleic anhydride (atm)


Pressure of reaction mixture in reactor (Pa)


Reference pressure (Pref = 101325 Pa)


Inlet pressure of reaction mixture (Pa)


Outlet pressure of reaction mixture (Pa)


Universal gas constant (= 8.314 J/(mol K))


Reaction rate for component i (kmol/(kgcat s))


Rate of j reaction for i component (kmol/(kgcat s))


Temperature of reaction mixture reactor (K)


Ambient temperature (K)


Reference temperature (Tref = 273.15 K)


Outlet temperature of reaction mixture (K)


Inlet temperature of reaction mixture (K)


Overall heat transfer coefficient (kJ/(m2 h K))


Volume of reactor (m3)


Volume of particle (m3)


Mass of catalyst (kg)


Conversion of n-butane (–)


Molar fraction of component i (–)


Overall yield of maleic anhydride (–)


Overall selectivity of maleic anhydride (–)

Greek letters


Pressure drop parameter (kg−1)


Exponent in equation 16a (–)


Exponent in equation 16c (–)


Heat of reaction j (kJ/kmol)


Heat of the reaction 1 (kJ/kmol)


Heat of the reaction 2 (kJ/kmol)


Heat of the reaction 3 (kJ/kmol)


Porosity of catalyst (–)


Viscosity of gas mixture passing through the catalyst bed (kg/(m h))


Stoichiometric coefficient (–)


Bulk density of catalyst bed (kg/m3)


Density of catalyst particles (kg/m3)


Density of reaction mixture at reactor inlet (kg/m3)


Outlet volume percentage of n-butane (V%)


Outlet volume percentage of carbon dioxide (V%)


Outlet volume percentage of carbon monoxide (V%)



The research conducted and presented within the study was a part of research project, financially supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Science of Bosnia and Herzegovina (05-39-2482-1/17). The authors would like to thank Technical Manager of Maleic Anhydride Plant Mr. Ermin Mujkić, for providing process data.

Supplementary material

11144_2019_1533_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (469 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 469 kb)


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of TechnologyUniversity of TuzlaTuzlaBosnia and Herzegovina

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