This paper presents an extensive review of the kinetics, hydrodynamics, mass transfer, heat transfer and mathematical as well as computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling of Low-Temperature Tropsch Synthesis (LTFT) synthesis in Slurry Bubble Column Reactors (SBCRs), with the aim of identifying potential research and development areas in this particular field. The kinetic expressions developed for F-T synthesis over iron and cobalt catalysts along with the water gas shift (WGS) reactions are summarized and compared. The experimental data and empirical correlations to predict the hydrodynamics (gas holdup, Sauter mean bubble diameter, and bubble rise velocity), mass transfer coefficients and heat transfer coefficients are presented. The effects of various operating variables, including pressure, temperature, gas velocity, catalyst concentration, reactor geometry, and reactor internals on the hydrodynamic and transport parameters as well as the performance of SBCRs are discussed. Additionally, modeling efforts of SBCRs, using axial dispersion models (ADM), multiple cell recirculation models (MCCM) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), are addressed. This review revealed the following:
Numerous F-T and WGS kinetic rate expressions are available for cobalt and iron catalysts and one must be careful in selecting the appropriate expressions for LTFT. Iron catalyst suffers from severe attrition and subsequent deactivation in SBCRs and accordingly building a costly catalyst manufacturing facility onsite is required to maintain a steady operation of the F-T reactor;
Experimental data on the hydrodynamic and transport parameters at high pressures and temperatures, typical to those of actual F-T synthesis, remain scanty when compared with the plethora of studies conducted using airwater systems in small reactors at ambient conditions;
Several empirical correlations for predicting the hydrodynamic and mass as well heat transfer parameters are available and one should select those which consider the reactor diameter, gas mixtures and the potential foamability of the F-T liquids;
The effect of cooling internals configuration and sparger design on the hydrodynamic and transport parameters, local turbulence, mixing and catalyst attrition are yet to be seriously addressed;
The impact of operating variables on the hydrodynamic and transport parameters as well as the overall performance of the SBCRs should be investigated using actual F-T fluidsolid systems under typical pressures and temperatures using a large-scale reactor (>0.15 m ID) in the presence of gas spargers and cooling internals;
Significant efforts are still required in order to advance CFD modeling of SBCRs, particularly those pertaining to the relevant closure models, such as drag, lift and turbulence. Also, cooling internals configuration and the design as well as orientation of gas spargers should be accounted for in the CFD modeling; and
Proper validations of the CFD formulations using actual systems for F-T SBCR are needed.