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Journal of Automatic Chemistry
Volume 16, Issue 5, Pages 187-193

Automation of a fixed-bed continuous–flow reactor

1Departrnento de Ingenieria Q.uirnica y Combustibles, Escuela Ténica Superior de Ingemeros de Minas, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Rios Rosas 21, Madrid 28003, Spain
2Instituto de Estructura de la Materia, CSIC, Serrano 123, Madrid 28006, Spain

Copyright © 1994 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper describes the design and operation of a laboratory plant with a fixed-bed continuous-flow reactor, fully automated and controlled from a personal computer. The automated variables include two gas flows, one liquid flow, six temperatures, two pressures, one circulation of a cooling liquid, and 10 electrovalves. An adaptive-predictive control system was used. The chemical process chosen to run the automated reactor was the conversion of methanol to gasoline over a ZSM-5 catalyst. This is a highly exothermal process, so a cascade control system had to be used to control the reactor internal temperature. Pressure and weight hourly space velocity (WHSV) were fixed at 1 arm and 1.5h-1 respectively. Accurate control (±0.2°C) of the reactor’s internal temperature was achieved and repeatability for the conversion of methanol to gasoline was good.