Enhancing internal mass transport in Fischer-Tropsch catalyst layers utilizing transport pores
Internal mass transport limitations inside Fischer–Tropsch catalysts due to the slow diffusion of reactants in the liquid-filled pores may significantly alter the selectivity and achievable productivity. In this work, diffusive restrictions for planar catalyst layers were investigated by mathematical modeling and simulation. A one-dimensional model utilizing empirical kinetics, incorporating transport pores as an additional pathway for mass transport and taking into account heat production, allows for calculation of catalyst efficiency and productivity towards C5+ products. As diffusional mass transport leads to strong concentration gradients that impair selectivity, an optimum layer thickness with maximum C5+ productivity can be found. Additional transport pores enhance the mass transport but reduce the amount of active phase, which requires a trade-off by optimizing the fraction of transport pores and layer thickness. For reference conditions, the catalyst layer with an ideal amount of transport pores and ideal thickness exhibits a productivity that is about 47% higher than that for the best layer without transport pores. This improvement requires transport pores with diameters not larger than about 60 μm. While the improvement potential significantly depends on the effective diffusivities, the effect of heat generation was found to be negligible.