Disposal of spent catalyst is a common practice in industrial methanol synthesis. However, the spent catalyst has, generally, a good level of activity and can be used if mixed with fresh catalyst. In this work the operation of an industrial methanol synthesis reactor with mixtures of fresh and partially deactivated catalyst was investigated using a one-dimensional transient model. Analysis of the deactivation behavior of low-pressure methanol synthesis catalyst shows there is an extremely sharp rate of deactivation in a small part of the catalyst life-time, which is followed by a relatively slow rate of deactivation in the remaining catalyst cycle-time. Different configurations were studied for catalyst recycling, and two limiting cases are discussed in detail in this paper, namely layered and homogeneous (mixed) bed models. In the first one, the catalyst was segregated into two alternate layers of fresh and partially deactivated catalyst, while in the second homogeneity of the catalyst bed was simulated by segregating a large number of alternate layers of fresh and partially deactivated catalyst. It was observed in both cases that when catalyst recycling is used, the process does not depart significantly from the standard operating conditions, and also that the mixed bed had less influence on the reactor performance than layered one.
Chemical Engineering & Technology Vol. 28, no. 2, p. 226-234