Feasibility of process intensification of water-gas shift reaction using a microreactor with integrated cooling

Thomas E. Tolley, Brian M. Fronk

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Hydrogen is an increasingly attractive low-carbon energy carrier for a variety of stationary and mobile applications. The water-gas shift (WGS) reaction is a key processing step used for large-scale hydrogen production via the steam methane reforming process. However, the thermodynamics and kinetics of the reaction are such that standard two-stage adiabatic reactors used in these systems are large, increasing catalyst volume and cost. To intensify the process and realize the economical distributed production of hydrogen, diabatic WGS microreactors with integrated cooling directly regulate the reaction temperature via integrated coolant channels to promote higher conversion within a smaller reactor volume. This study investigates the conversion efficiency of a single WGS microchannel operating under such cooling conditions. A COMSOL Multiphysics model is developed and validated with isothermal experimental data from the literature. The model is then used to evaluate improvements in conversion efficiency when the reaction is cooled via a specified wall temperature profile. Finally, the model is modified to include cooling channels with a secondary fluid that can practically achieve a similar conversion profile as the specified wall temperature profile previously applied. Initial results show that reactor conversion can be significantly increased by the inclusion of appropriate cooling and that there is a potential for the recovery of energy from the reaction stream that can be used for other applications within the overall process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Thermal and Fluids Engineering Summer Conference
StatePublished - 2020
Event5th Thermal and Fluids Engineering Conference, TFEC 2020 - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Apr 5 2020Apr 8 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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