Stafford, Texas

Why Flow Control is Important in Catalyst Research

Why Flow Control is Important in Catalyst Research

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Catalyst Research

In this article, I want to discuss one of our most common applications; Catalyst Research. Many of our customers are using catalysts to quicken a chemical reaction. One of the core benefits of using a catalyst is their efficiency. A small amount of catalyst is able to recover a large amount of reaction products

What Are Catalysts?

We know what Solid catalysts do, but what are they? They are small, highly porous media. These pore systems are formed by many irregularly shaped and interconnected pores inside the particles. This pore system leads to a large internal surface area in a small volume on which the reactions take place. Gaseous or liquid chemicals disperse into the pores and react at the catalytically active sites to reaction products that diffuse out of the particle. These reactions often require extreme process conditions.

Today, we want to talk about how one of our customers (an energy research organization) studies an un-detailed catalyzed chemical reaction of a mixture of hydrocarbon compounds. These studies require high temperature and pressure. We were able to partner with Bronkhorst to find a solution for injecting chemicals at a low flow under high pressure conditions.

What kind of liquid flow meters can be used here?

Like previously stated, this reaction requires a specific process conditions. We needed the solution to inject a liquid flow at a high pressure. The injection needs to occur at 435 psi to 870 psi. It also needs to have a stable flow without any pulsing. So the Bronkhorst instrument used here will have to be very stable and accurate.

Bronkhorst Solution

Bronkhorst meters and controllers used in catalyst research

We used a Coriolis mass flow meter that controls a pump at the inlet side of the reactor. The back pressure controller is operating independently on the outlet side. The pump gives off a stable flow without any pulsation. The pump can handle a liquid viscosity of max. 40 mPa.s. The Maximum operating temperature is 158 °F and the small catalyst is held in a reactor within a furnace that is much hotter than that.

This pressure controller handles gas an liquid in a very stable flow. This solution offers much better control than a mechanical pressure reducer. The pump is programed with 3 control modes:

  1. Pressure
  2. Volumetric (Only the pistons speed is controlled)
  3. Mass Flow

The pressure controller can handle gas and liquid in a very stable controlled flow. Especially at very small flow rates, this pressure controller has a much better control. Control and monitoring of the data is made accessible via a single digital interface.

Flow scheme of the catalysts

Recommended products:

El Press Controllers


The EL-PRESS series digital electronic pressure transducers and controllers for gases and liquids have a well-proven compact thru-flow design.Learn More


Bronkhorst has expanded their liquid flow measurement and control capacities to 600 kg/h, using a Coriolis type mass flow sensor with unsurpassed performance. With ranges down to 0,05…5 g/h for the mini CORI-FLOW series, Bronkhorst has become a true (ultra) low flow specialist.

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