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Hydrogenation Reactor Pressure Control – Stability in demanding conditions

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Hydrogenation is a chemical reaction between a compound and hydrogen.

In the fine chemicals industry, hydrogenation is commonly performed in a fixed-bed catalytic reactor. An unsaturated hydrocarbon, such as an alkene or alkyne, is reduced in the presence of hydrogen to form a saturated (or more saturated) hydrocarbon.

These reactions are often performed at elevated temperature and pressure to increase the density of the hydrogen and increase the rate of reaction. The control of reactor pressure is often critical, and can be difficult due to aggressive chemicals, high temperature and pressure, and the presence of mixed phase reactants.

The Equilibar® back pressure regulator is a dome-loaded back pressure regulator which excels in demanding applications such as reactor pressure control.

In the schematic shown to the right, unsaturated hydrocarbon is injected via a liquid control valve. Hydrogen gas is injected into the reactor using a Mass Flow Controller (MFC). A fixed bed heterogeneous catalysis reactor accelerates the hydrogenation process.

The Equilibar back pressure regulator controls the reactor pressure accurately through either manual or computer control. In the schematic, a manual pilot regulator controls nitrogen Pressure to apply the 1:1 set-point to the BPR.

For computer automation applications, a high pressure Electronic pressure regulator would command the nitrogen pressure to control the hydrogenation process precisely according to the programmed cycle steps.

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