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Discontinuous operation (batch reactor)
The discontinuous operation is characterized by the following sequence:
- Filling: The reactants and any other substances that may be required, such as solvents, catalysts or inert substances, are added to the reactor.
- Reaction: The reactor contents remain in the reactor for a certain period of time under defined conditions.
- Emptying: The contents of the reactor are removed and the reactor is prepared for the next filling.
The times required for the respective operations are included in the time required to manufacture a product. The entire time is called the production cycle.
Advantages and disadvantages
The composition of the reaction mixture changes with increasing residence time, but only as long as the equilibrium conversion has not yet been reached. Vigorous stirring ensures that the same temperature and concentration is present at every location in the reactor. These quantities are therefore local, but not constant over time. The reactor works unsteadily.
The advantages of this mode of operation are:
- high flexibility: use of a reactor for the manufacture of various products possible
- high sales thanks to standardized reaction times that can be set as long as required
The disadvantages of this mode of operation are:
- Dead times due to filling, emptying, heating, cooling and cleaning
- high measurement and control effort due to the unsteady process
- Batch operation can lead to fluctuations in quality
Batch operation is used for these reasons
- when products are only to be manufactured in small quantities
- when different products are to be manufactured with one reactor
- when a continuous process is not possible (e.g. when producing solids that can clog pipes)