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MEng Chemical Engineering / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Catalytic Reaction Engineering

Unit code CHEN30051
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit consist out of eight main topics:

1.         Introduction to heterogeneous reactions: in this topic the main principles of heterogeneous reaction systems are introduced. The focus will be on how to describe the basic steps for a solid-catalysed reaction system, the contacting patterns for multiphase systems, the rate limiting steps, and applying the concepts of film theory for multiphase systems.

 2.         Kinetic models for heterogeneous reactions: in this topic the methodology of deriving a rate law and mechanism and rate limiting step for solid-catalysed reaction systems are presented. The focus will be on how to develop adsorption, surface-reaction, and desorption-models to describe the overall rate equations for a solid-catalysed reaction.

 3.         Internal mass transfer: in this topic the internal diffusion and reaction in catalyst pellets are introduced.  The focus will be on how to develop pore models for analysing diffusion and reaction and show how the Thiele Modulus affects the rate of reaction in heterogeneous catalytic reactions.

 4.         External mass transfer: in this topic the fundamentals of external diffusion and molar flux are introduced and designing reactors when the reactions are limited by mass transfer are discussed. The focus will be to incorporate Fick’s first law into the mole balances to model diffusion through a stagnant film to a reacting surface.

5.         Solid-fluid reactor design - Packed bed reactors: in this topic the basic principles of solid-fluid packed bed reactors are discussed and the factors that influence the choice and performance of these reactors are identified. The focus will be on how to account for the non-isothermal behaviour of packed beds.

 6.         Solid-fluid reactor design - Fluidized bed reactors: in this topic the basic principles of solid-fluid fluidized bed reactors are discussed, and various types and applications of these reactors are introduced. The focus will be on how to account for the non-ideal flow of gas in fluidized beds using different flow models.

 7.         Fluid-fluid reactor design: in this topic the main principles of heterogeneous fluid-fluid reaction system are introduced. The focus will be on how to describe the overall rate expression, equilibrium solubility and contact pattern for a fluid-fluid reactions. Thereafter, the focus will be on how to design a fluid-fluid reactor contactor (tank and tower).

 8.         Reactor design with software packages: in this topic the concepts and methodology use to design heterogeneous reactors using computer based software packages are introduced. The focus will be on how to design a complex multiphase reactor system using simulation and modeling software packages.



 The unit aims to:

develop an understanding of the kinetics and design of chemical reactors for different types of heterogeneous systems.

Learning outcomes

ILO 1.Describe the rate steps and overall rate equation for heterogeneous reaction systems.

ILO 2.Develop mathematical expressions to describe the behaviour of different types of heterogeneous and multiphase reactors (such as catalytic packed bed reactor, fluidized bed reactor, and slurry reactor).

ILO 3.Evaluate and analyse how kinetics, mass and heat transfer affect the performance of heterogeneous and multiphase reactors.

ILO 4.Apply analytical and numerical methods to determine reactor behaviour and analyse the results.

ILO 5.Design (size) heterogeneous and multiphase chemical reactors and optimise operating conditions.

Teaching and learning methods

The unit makes use of three main types of learning and teaching sessions:

•      Online lecture sessions and Tutorial problem solving sessions

•      Online drop-in discussion sessions


All materials are available via the e-learning platform of Blackboard including lecture notes, lecture podcasts, and sample solutions to the tutorial exercises. Communications outside of the scheduled teaching slots also make use of the Blackboard platform.


Assessment methods


Assessment task


Weighting within unit (if relevant)

Continuous assessment



Exam style assessment




Recommended reading

Fogler HS, Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering, 3rd (4th) Edition, Prentice Hall 1998 (2005), ISBN 0135317088 Joule Library 660-02 FOG

Bartholomew CH and Farrauto RJ, Fundamentals of Industrial Catalytic Processes, (2006).


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 76

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Percy Van Der Gryp Unit coordinator

Additional notes


Lecture hours:


Tutorial hours:


Coursework Support


Coursework hours:


Private study hours:


Total study hours:


Date of current version

3rd August 2018

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.

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