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CME2024 : Reactor Engineering

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Vladimir Zivkovic
  • Lecturer: Professor Anh Phan
  • Owning School: Engineering
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


We start by showing how material balances should be performed for the three fundamental reactor types used in reaction engineering, namely the plug-flow reactor (PFR), the continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) and the perfectly-mixed batch reactor. We will see how these material balances can be used to design (by this we primarily mean how to calculate their volume or residence time) reactors when one reaction is taking place. We will also compare the behaviour of the different reactors. We will proceed to look at how the design process must be modified when more than one reaction is occurring. Further, we introduce and discuss behaviour of non-ideal reactors; this is intended to illustrate the limitations of always assuming that reactors behave in an ideal manner. This will allow us to calculate the residence time and conversion of any reactions in real reactors. Finally, we will see that reactors need not be isothermal. Therefore, we need to look at how reaction rate depends upon temperature for different classes of reaction. Then we will formulate the energy balance for the simple reactor models to show importance of energy balance in reactor design.

At the end of the course the student’s attitude should move away from:
‘All reactors are too complex to model’ or ‘All reactors are either perfectly mixed or plug flow’,
‘It is possible to describe chemical reactors using models. However, all models have limitations. It is an engineer’s responsibility to be aware of these limitations and to choose a model which is of sufficient complexity to give an answer of the required accuracy’.

Outline Of Syllabus


Introduction to batch and continuous reactor operation, batch reactor design equation Plug flow reactor design equation

CSTR design equation

Single reactions

Constant pressure and constant volume batch reactors

Plug flow reactors

Problem class on PFRs


Comparison of PFR and CSTR and CSTRs in series

Similarity between series of CSTRs and PFR
Recycle reactor
Use of MATLAB to solve ODEs for reactor problems

Multiple reactions

Introduction to multiple reactions, parallel reaction of the same order, parallel reactions of different orders; Consecutive reactions

Non-ideal reactors

Non-ideal reactors, residence time distribution (RTD)

Calculation of conversion from RTD

Effect of temperature on reaction rate

Energy balance for the reactors: brief introduction

Energy balance problem class

Use of MATLAB to solve system of ODEs for reactor problems

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion112:3012:30Exam revision
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture211:0021:00PiP
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:301:30Exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Tutorials
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study153:0053:00Working through problems in in-course text and tutorials
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce theoretical concepts and MATLAB skills that will be practiced in tutorials and online quizzes. The formative assessment with MATLAB skills provides a tool to apply knowledge gained together with knowledge from other modules, to solve more complex, realistic problem not possible to solve analytically

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A100Closed-book, in-person
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment1MCanvas quizzes to test knowledge, feedback given and errors explained in class after test
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Examination assesses the knowledge and skills gained on closed problems where all necessary information is
supplied. Formative online-quiz assignments assesses the basic understanding of the fundamental knowledge obtained in lectures and tutorials.

Reading Lists