Artificial Alveolar Mechanics for Enhancing Multiphase Catalytic Reactor Activity in the Field of Energy and Environment

Project: Research

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Gas-liquid-solid multiphase catalysisis an important type of reaction process in the field ofenergy and environment.It is extensively applied in various processes, such as hydrogenation, direct alcohol fuel cell, fuelreforming, photocatalytic water purification, selective oxidation, CO2 reduction, among others.Although the multiphase reactions are effective, they generally inherit common problems of slowand inefficient reactivity. It is because conventional multiphase reactors based on batch, slugflow, or falling film configurations fail to provide the gas transport at sufficiently high rate. Theconventional reactors also fail to manipulate the composition of gaseous and aqueous reactants tomatch the catalytic kinetics at solid catalytic reaction site.Inspired by biological lungs, in this study we propose to developnovel biomimic artificialalveolar mechanicsfor increasing the reactivity of gas-liquid-solid multiphase catalytic reactors.Biological respiration is a multiphase phenomenon, in which numerous alveoli and capillaryvessels effectively deliver large amount of oxygen and blood, respectively, to the alveolar sacsurfaces, where O2 and CO2 diffusions and their exchange with red blood cells occur. In theproposed biomimic artificial alveolar configuration of analogous mechanics, the aqueousreactant (blood/plasma) containing catalyst particles (red blood cells) is distributed by means ofmicrofluidics (capillary vessels). Meanwhile, the gaseous reactant is separately supplied throughgas channels (alveoli). The aqueous and gaseous species encounter each other via a gas-permeablemedium. Such biomimetic microfluidic reactor enablesprecise microscale controland potentialintensification of multiphase catalytic reactions.In this project, we will conduct computational modeling and experimental studies togainknowledgeof theartificial alveolar mechanics,which highly involves microflow,catalytickineticsand their complex interactions. We will also obtain theintensification principlesandreactor integrity. We will conduct the studies based onhydrogenationandphotocatalysisasrepresentative technologies in energy and environment, respectively, because we have conductedprevious research in these two important areas and all major experimental facilities needed arealready available in our laboratory. Successful completion of the proposed research will open upa new direction to achieve highly reactive gas-liquid-solidmultiphase microfluidic catalyticreactors, which can perform functions and high reaction rates that are not obtainable byconventional reactors. The findings can be applied to enhance the performance and efficiency ofvarious energy and environmental chemical processes, resulting in a higher degree ofsustainability.


Project number9042044
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/12/1427/11/19

    Research areas

  • Gas-liquid-solid multiphase,Heterogeneous catalysis,Biomimetic artificial alveoli,Microfluidics,