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C&EN: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - A NEW SPIN ON REACTOR DESIGN

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Intensification To Accelerate

[C&EN, Mar. 4, 2002]

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July 29, 2002

Volume 80, Number 30 CENEAR 80 30 pp. 26-27 ISSN 0009-2347

A NEW SPIN ON REACTOR

DESIGN

Refined rotor-stator system has the potential to boost chemical process intensification efforts

STEPHEN K. RITTER, C&EN WASHINGTON

The process intensification movement afoot in manufacturing

industries has the goal of generating products in a more concise environment that is safer, cleaner, and less expensive. In chemical production, this means reducing the footprint of chemical plants while increasing the efficiency of converting reactants into products. One focal point is the design of new types of continuous reactors to replace less efficient stirred-tank batch reactors, the longtime workhorses of the chemical industry.

One such reactor is the Spinning Tube-in-Tube (STT) system being developed by Camarillo, Calif.-based Holl Technologies. Designed by mechanical engineer and company founder Richard A. Holl, the STT reactor has taken the Couette reactor principle--in which one cylinder (a rotor) turns inside a second cylinder (a stator)--to the next level by incorporating modifications that make production-scale reaction chemistry possible, according to Stanley A. Sojka, Holl Technologies senior vice president and chief operating officer.

"STT is a diffusional chemical reaction system developed to close the gap between lagging engineering research in reactor design and the growing pressure for cleaner and more efficient chemical processing," Sojka said. The STT design and an overview of its initial performance in pilot-scale tests were presented by Sojka during a talk in late June at the 6th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Washington, D.C.

Rotor-stators have an annular gap of about 5 mm or more between the outside wall of the rotor and the inside wall of the stator. While the rotor is rapidly spinning, liquids, solids, or gases enter the annular space where they encounter shear forces that can create mixtures, pastes, slurries, or emulsions, depending on the machine's design.

Conventional rotor-stators are widely used to incorporate additives in

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