Types of Reactors in Industries (Pharma, chemical, petrochemical)

The reactor is a vital part of any chemical industry also called as the heart of the chemical process where chemical reactions in conducted. Product is the result of the process of raw material hence chemical reactors are important equipment in any process.

In any type of industries such as the chemical industry, polymer industry, Dyes and pigment industries, color industries, pharmaceutical industries, and many more reactor plays an important role in a chemical reaction.

types of reactors
Types of reactors

There are several types of reactors that are being used based on the types of reaction, and raw material properties hence there are selection criteria for selecting the reactors in the industry. Today in this post, we are going to learn about different types of reactors being used in the chemical industry with examples.

Prior to jumping into the types of reactors in chemical plants or any industry let us know what a is reactor and in case you are familiar with the definition of the reactor let’s refresh it with the basic chemical reactors.

What is Reactor | Define a chemical reactor

A reactor is a process vessel design to add chemicals and conduct chemical reactions. The chemical reactor consists of different parts Chemical reactors are designed to give maximum yield in a chemical reaction. Different types of reactions are being carried out in chemical reactors.

Types of Reactor | Types of Chemical Reactors

There are several types of reactors that are being used in Chemical industry. Selection criteria i.e. when to use which type of reactor will be discussed in the later part of the article. The basic types of reactor are as follows

  1. Batch Reactor
  2. CSTR reactor – Continuous stirred tank reactor
  3. PFR – Plug flow reactor
  4. Semibatch reactor
  5. Nuclear Reactor

these are the basic types of chemical reactor, Now let us discussed all the reactos in details.

1. Batch Reactor

batch reactor

A batch reactor is the simplest type of reactor that consists of agitator and had a provision to apply utilities to heat ot cool the reaction mass. This is a closed system in which there is no flow of material entering or exiting the system. In the batch reactor, raw materials are charged into the reactor and allow to get agitation. Jackets are provided to the batch reactors where we can apply utilities to heat or cool the reaction mass according to the process requirement. These are mostly used in the pharmaceutical industry and also prepare solution i.e dosing chemicals etc. Batch reactors are used for chemical preparation, fermentation, crystallization and etc.

Batch Reactor Application – Batch reactors are used to prepare chemicals for dosing in the reaction. In caustic chlorine industry, batch of sodium sulfite is prepared that is used to dose in brine to remove free chlorine is dichlorination outlet

We had also posted detailed article on types of distillation. So do check out that also.

2. Continuous stirred tank reaction (CSTR)

continuous stirred tank reactor CSTR

Continuous stirred tank reactor in another type of reactor also known as back mix reactor, mixed flow reactor (MFR), or continuous-flow stirred-tank reactor (CFSTR) is widely used in the chemical industry and had various applications. CSTR reactors are batch reactors with open systems and have an impeller equipped with it to provide agitation for proper mixing or reactor content. these reactors allow adding continuous raw material into the reactor and continuous removal of product. CSTR reactor is considered an idealized agitated tank reactor and use to model operation variables required to achieve a specified output.

CSTR Application – CSTR reactors are used in chemical industries, especially in continuous plant

3. PFR – Plug Flow reactor

Plug Slow reactor
Plug Slow reactor

PFR stands for Plug flow reactor, and also known as a continuous tubular reactor (CTR) is another type of reactor where one or more chemicals as a fluid injected or pumped through a pipe or tube. These types of reactors are known as plug flow or tubular reactors as this reactor had a tube-like design and the reaction take place The chemical reaction proceeds as the reagents travel through the PFR. In this type of reactor, the changing reaction rate creates a gradient with respect to the distance traversed; at the inlet, to the PFR the rate is very high, but as the concentrations of the reagents decrease and the concentration of the product(s) increases the reaction rate slows.

4. Semibatch reactor

A semi-batch reactor is operated with both continuous and batch inputs and outputs. These types are reactors are a combination of batch and continuous reactors. In semi-batch reactors, raw material and reactants are charged and other chemicals are added slowly in the process along with time procedure. Agitator provides and agitation to the reaction mass will help to achieve uniform composition and temperature throughout the reactor. Semibatch reacts provides the option/flexibility to add chemicals in the continuous process reaction. Sebi batch reactors had jackets also in which utilities can be used to provide heating and cooling to the reaction mass according to the chemical process requirement.

Don’t forget to check pump performance curve if you want to learn more about pumps.

5. Nuclear Reactor

Reactor Palo%20Verde APS 0
Source www.energy.gov

Nuclear reactors are the reactors designed to perform nuclear fission reactions i.e. splitting of atom and release energy. Uranium such as uranium-235 or plutonium-239 is used as a nuclear fuel. These are designed to sustain the controlled nuclear chain reactions. These Nuclear reactors are used in nuclear power stations to generate electricity. In the nuclear reactor, the fuel is reacted and converted into uranium dioxide powder and then pellets are made by pressing them and process them to make hard ceramic material. The pellets are then stacked into the tubes called fuel rods. The number of fuel rods are depends on the capacity of the reactor. In the reactor vessel, Control rods made up of different material has properties to reduce the reaction are used to control the reaction. There are inserted into the core of the reactor to reduce the rate of reaction or withdrawn to increase it.

Application of Nuclear Reactors – Nuclear reactors are used in a nuclear power stations.

FAQ (What are different types of reactors)

What is reactor and its types?

A reactor is a process vessel in which raw materials are added and a reaction can be conducted. There are different types of reactors use in different types of industries like pharmaceutical industries, color and dyes industries, petrochemical industries, fine chemical industries, and many more.

What are the 4 types of nuclear reactors?

Nuclear reactors are of different types listed below
1. Fast neutron reactor (FNR)
2. Pressurized water reactor (PWR)
3. Advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR)
4. Boiling water reactor (BWR)
5. Light water graphite-moderated reactor (LWGR)

What is a PFR?

PFR is a type of chemical reactor, which stands for a Plug flow reactor.

What is an SSR reactor?

Reactors are of different MOC i.e. Material of construction which is SSR Stainless steel reactor and GLR – Glass lined reactor.

Wrapping Up

This was the detailed article on types of reactors used in chemical industries or to be precise, types of chemical reactor. If you have any doubt related to the reactor topic or in case you want some more details about the reactors i.e. batch reactor, CSTR reactor, etc then feel free to use the comment section, We will help you with that. We post articles related to chemical engineering and industrial safety, in meantime do read NFPA Diamond Diagram. Till then keep learning and exploring the world of the chemical world. If you are an andriod user then download our app from playstore – apps for chemical engineers.

Me - Founder of Chemical Tweak - A Chemical Engineer by profession and a part-time self-trained technology blogger.

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