Asee peer logo

Reactor Design With Matlab In A Manufacturing Environment

Download Paper |


1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.340.1 - 2.340.11

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Charles U. Okonkwo

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1613

Reactor Design With Matlab In a Manufacturing Environment

Dr. Charles U. Okonkwo Arizona State University


The motivation for this study arises from a class project in an Alternative Energy course MET 494. A professor with mechanical processing background taught the course to students with similar background during the 1996 fall semester. During the 1996 spring semester, the professor’s MET 494 students produced hydrogen in a batch reactor via a methane steam reforming reaction on a nickel catalyst. The batch reactor temperature was about 800 0C and pressures varied between 85 and 97 psig. The class objective, among other things, was to produce hydrogen in a continuous flow reactor and understand the behavior of such a reactor.

Hydrogen is a promising fuel alternative. As an additive, hydrogen may boost the performance of jet propulsion engines. Some auto manufacturers have begun research in this area. For example, Mazda has already produced a hydrogen fueled prototype engine that outperformed electric prototype engines. Diamler-Benz is also researching the use of hydrogen in internal combustion engines. Additionally, the students’ future objective is to research the use of hydrogen as a stand alone alternative in jet propulsion and internal combustion engines. The professor asked me to help design a reactor, which the students would build.

I have modeled hydrogen production using a packed bed reactor. The design equations consist of coupled material and energy balances. Rate kinetics used in the design equations were obtained from the literature. The design equations contain one endothermic reaction and one exothermic reaction, yielding an overall reaction that is endothermic. I used Matlab to solve the resulting five nonlinear ordinary differential equations and an algebraic equation. Using the model the students can simulate production of hydrogen by adjusting reactor length, area, heating of reactants, molar flow rates of methane and steam, inlet temperature, inlet pressure and obtain hydrogen yield and flow rates of by-products. It uses a non temperature dependent rate constant obtained from the literature, and can be modified to handle a temperature dependent rate constant. The model gives a decreasing temperature profile across reactor length. The model can handle pressure calculations by simply adding an extra differential equation involving pressure as a dependent variable. However, it assumes constant pressure due to cost considerations. The model empowers the student to build and study the methane steam reforming reactor and gain better insight.


Okonkwo, C. U. (1997, June), Reactor Design With Matlab In A Manufacturing Environment Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1997 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015