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Because of corrosion, chemical reactors must be made of expensive materials very often. They are also generally subject to demanding operating conditions with respect to pressure and temperature. On the other hand, the challenges with bio-reactors (e.g. fermenters) are often their large volumes as well as the easy-to-clean design of the components. Both reactor types usually have to fulfil several mixing tasks at the same time. The agitator must not only intensively homogenise the contents of the reactor but suspend solids and disperse gas. In many cases, an extremely high heat transfer must be achieved. Such process-engineering applications require optimum coordination between the agitator, the vessel, and its components. Together, these always form a functional unit and cannot be considered individually. For reasons of productivity and profitability, it often makes sense that EKATO not only adjusts the agitator to a predetermined vessel but also develops an optimal overall concept together with the operator and equipment manufacturer. Ideally, this cooperation starts during the early planning phase when it is still possible to conduct mixing experiments at the laboratory and pilot scale before safely scaling up at the operational scale.
The geometrically and mechanical design of gassed chemical and bio-reactors is particularly demanding because the often high volume-specific power input levels lead to a very complex and dynamic loading of the vessel internals (e.g. heat exchangers, feed and drain pipes, baffles).
EKATO therefore determines hydraulic-based parameters (e.g. the hydraulic load of heat exchangers) through either numerical flow simulation (CFD) or measurements at the technical and operating scale. For this purpose, EKATO has special pilot and test equipment in the range from 1 to 100 m³ of vessel volume. The information obtained in this way is indispensable for the static and dynamic dimensioning as well as for the resonance-proof design of the hydrogenation reactor and its internals. EKATO subsequently designs the reactor in-house using finite element simulation.
For reactor design and later delivery of the entire reactor unit, different disciplines must work closely together in order to ensure a reliable and safe operation and to achieve the required yields. Once the requirements have been defined, the reactor geometry and the optimal gassing system can be defined. The heat transfer is calculated, and the type of the heat exchanger is determined. The feed and discharge points are optimally positioned relative to the impellers. The operating data of the agitator gives rise to the dynamic loads, which (in addition to the pressure conditions) must be taken into consideration in the practical implementation.
In addition to the process responsibility to ensure the required yields, with the reactor engineering, EKATO also assumes the mechanical responsibility for the reliable mechanical design of the reactor as well as for the interface management, expediting of the production quality and the dates, and compliant documentation. EKATO can also perform test assemblies and mechanical tests (FAT), plan the on-site assembly and commissioning, and implement these in coordination with the client.
Test assembly of reactor, agitator, and heat exchanger.