Model based design of a novel nanosecond-pulsed plasma discharge reactor for non-oxidative coupling of methane

01 November 2022 → 31 October 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Catalysis and reacting systems engineering not elsewhere classified
    • General chemical and biochemical engineering not elsewhere classified
    • Other engineering and technology not elsewhere classified
Computational reactor simulation Methane coupling Nanopulsed discharge plasma
Project description

Production of olefins via steam cracking is an essential pillar of the chemical industry, concurrently representing the largest contribution to carbon emissions in Flanders. The large production of methane fuel as a byproduct in steam cracking hinders the process' sustainable development in an electrified route. Non-oxidative coupling of methane (NOCM) is a promising solution to the problem, converting excess methane to olefins. Large-scale NOCM processes have been limited in the past by unfavorable thermodynamics and coke production. Recently, non-equilibrium reactive conditions attainable via nanosecond-pulsed plasma discharge (NPD) have been found to enable high methane conversion, preserving ethylene selectivity with high energy efficiency. The goal of this work is to develop a simulation framework for NOCM in a structured NPD reactor, enclosing a novel catalytic section to increase ethylene selectivity through acetylene hydrogenation. This will be achieved through two separate models in the open-source OpenFOAM environment. The first model will focus on the discharge section, decoupling solution of nanosecond-short electron collisions, and microsecond-short thermal chemistry. The second model will be centered around the CFD simulation of the catalytic section, where discharge effluents are converted to ethylene. Validation of these models through experimental data gathered at the in-house plasma setup will be performed, to finally propose an optimized reactor geometry.