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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Fischer–Tropsch Synthesis: Computational Sensitivity Modeling for Series of Cobalt Catalysts

Asbury University, One Macklem Drive, Wilmore, KY 40390, USA
Center for Applied Energy Research, University of Kentucky, 2540 Research Park Dr., Lexington, KY 40511, USA
Department of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering, University of Texas at San Antonio/Department of Mechanical Engineering, 1 UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Catalysts 2019, 9(10), 857;
Received: 22 July 2019 / Revised: 24 September 2019 / Accepted: 5 October 2019 / Published: 15 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Iron and Cobalt Catalysts)
Nearly a century ago, Fischer and Tropsch discovered a means of synthesizing organic compounds ranging from C1 to C70 by reacting carbon monoxide and hydrogen on a catalyst. Fischer–Tropsch synthesis (FTS) is now known as a pseudo-polymerization process taking a mixture of CO as H2 (also known as syngas) to produce a vast array of hydrocarbons, along with various small amounts of oxygenated materials. Despite the decades spent studying this process, it is still considered a black-box reaction with a mechanism that is still under debate. This investigation sought to improve our understanding by taking data from a series of experimental Fischer–Tropsch synthesis runs to build a computational model. The experimental runs were completed in an isothermal continuous stirred-tank reactor, allowing for comparison across a series of completed catalyst tests. Similar catalytic recipes were chosen so that conditional comparisons of pressure, temperature, SV, and CO/H2 could be made. Further, results from the output of the reactor that included the deviations in product selectivity, especially that of methane and CO2, were considered. Cobalt was chosen for these exams for its industrial relevance and respectfully clean process as it does not intrinsically undergo the water–gas shift (WGS). The primary focus of this manuscript was to compare runs using cobalt-based catalysts that varied in two oxide catalyst supports. The results were obtained by creating two differential equations, one for H2 and one for CO, in terms of products or groups of products. These were analyzed using sensitivity analysis (SA) to determine the products or groups that impact the model the most. The results revealed a significant difference in sensitivity between the two catalyst–support combinations. When the model equations for H2 and CO were split, the results indicated that the CO equation was significantly more sensitive to CO2 production than the H2 equation. View Full-Text
Keywords: Fischer–Tropsch synthesis; cobalt; modeling; kinetics Fischer–Tropsch synthesis; cobalt; modeling; kinetics
MDPI and ACS Style

Williams, H.; Gnanamani, M.K.; Jacobs, G.; Shafer, W.D.; Coulliette, D. Fischer–Tropsch Synthesis: Computational Sensitivity Modeling for Series of Cobalt Catalysts. Catalysts 2019, 9, 857.

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