Open-cell foams as catalysts support: a systematic analysis of the mass transfer limitations

A. Aguirre, V. Chandra, E. A.J.F. Peters, J. A.M. Kuipers, M. F. Neira D'Angelo (Corresponding author)

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In this work, the analysis of the mass transfer phenomena in catalytic open-cell foams is carried out through the combination of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and experiments, using the CO oxidation on Pt(1%)/γ-Al2O3/foam as a model reaction. The influence of the local hydrodynamic effects on the diffusion-reaction phenomena occurring at the gas-solid interface of the open-cell solid foams are investigated by Direct Numerical Simulations assuming an infinitely fast reaction. A correlation for the Sherwood number as function of Reynolds -for low Re- is proposed. To validate this experimentally, aluminum foams coated with Pt(1%)/γ-Al2O3 are tested at different reaction conditions for the CO oxidation. The obtained reaction rates and apparent activation energy show the presence of external mass transfer limitations. An analysis of the diffusion-reaction phenomena taking place in the wash-coated layer is presented in terms of dimensionless numbers. A practical criterion is developed in terms of the Thiele modulus (ϕw) and the Biot number (Bim) for the identification of the reaction regimes: kinetic control (ϕw2/Bim<0.1), internal and/or external mass transfer limitations (0.1<ϕw2/Bim<10), and full mass transfer control (ϕw2/Bim>10).

Original languageEnglish
Article number124656
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • CO oxidation
  • Direct Numerical Simulations
  • Mass transfer limitations
  • Open-cell foams


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