The Fischer-Tropsch process is widely used to convert a variety of resources such as gas, biomass, and coal, to fuels. The catalytic reactions in this process are very fast, in many cases, much faster than the rate at which the reactants reach the active sites in the catalyst. Thus resulting in the transport to the catalyst often limiting the reaction rate. Another significant challenge in designing a Fischer-Tropsch reactor is controlling the large adiabatic temperature rise due to highly exothermic reactions.
Newly designed metallic foam catalysts allow for more surface area of reactivity, lower pressure drops, and better thermal stability and conductivity. In this project we will be studying the heat and mass transport properties within these catalysts (shown in figure). Direct Numerical Simulation techniques like the Immersed Boundary Method will be used to study the transport phenomena at the particulate level.