Example : Chemical Reactions

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This problem models an extremely nonlinear chemical reaction in an open tube reactor with a gas flowing through it. The problem illustrates the use of FlexPDE to solve mixed boundary value - initial value problems and involves the calculation of an extremely nonlinear chemical reaction.

While the solutions sought are the 3D steady state solutions, the problems are mixed boundary value / initial value problems with vastly different phenomena dominating in the radial and axial directions.

The equations model a cross-section of the reactor which flows with the gas down the tube. There is therefore a one to one relation between the time variable used in the equations and distance down the tube given by

z = v*t.

The chemical reaction has a reaction rate which is exponential in temperature, and shows an explosive reaction completion, once an 'ignition' temperature is reached. The problem variable 'C' represents the fractional conversion (with 1 representing reaction completion).

The reaction rate 'RC' is given by

RC(C,Temp) = (1-C)*exp(gamma*(1-1/Temp))

where the parameter GAMMA is related to the activation energy of the reaction.

The gas is initially at a temperature of 1, in our normalized units, with convective cooling at the tube surface coupled to a cooling bath at a temperature of 0.92.

The problem is cylindrically symmetric about the tube axis. Because of the reaction the axis of the tube will remain hotter than the periphery, and eventually the reaction will ignite on the tube axis, sending completion and temperature fronts propagating out toward the wall. For small GAMMA, these fronts are gentle, but for GAMMA greater than about twelve the fronts becomes very steep and completion is reached rapidly and sharply, creating very rapid transition from a very high reaction rate to a zero reaction rate. The adaptive gridding and adaptive time-stepping capabilities of FlexPDE come into play in this extremely nonlinear and nonisotropic problem, allowing a wave of dense gridding in time to accompany the completion and temperature fronts across the tube.

In this problem we introduce a heating strip on the two vertical faces of the tube, for a width of ten degrees of arc. These strips are held at a temperature of 1.2, not much above the initial gas temperature. The initial timesteps are held small while the abrupt temperature gradient at the heating strips diffuses into the gas.

As the cross-section under study moves down the reactor, the heat generated by the reaction combines with the heat diffusing in from the strip heater to cause ignition at a point on the x-axis and cause the completion front and temperature front to progate from this point across the cross-section.

We model only a quarter of the tube, with mirror planes on the X- and Y-axes.The calculation models a cross-section of the tube, and this cross-sectionflows with the gas down the tube.

The "cycle=10" plots allow us to see the flame-front propagating across the volume, which happens very quickly, and would not be seen in a time-interval sampling.

While the magnitudes of the numerical values used for the various constants including gamma are representative of those found with real reactions and real open tube reactors, they are not meant to represent a particular reaction or reactor.

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