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Integration of multi-scale porosimetry and multi-modal imaging in the study of structure-transport relationships in porous catalyst pellets

Mousa, Suleiman; Novak, Vladimir; Fletcher, Robin S.; Garcia, Monica; Macleod, Norman; Corfield, Martin; Rigby, Sean P.


Suleiman Mousa

Vladimir Novak

Robin S. Fletcher

Monica Garcia

Norman Macleod

Martin Corfield

Professor of Chemical Engineering


The forming process for heterogeneous catalyst pellets impacts on reactor performance. In order to intelligently optimise the product formulation and manufacturing procedure, the impact of fabrication options on the resultant pore structure and mass transfer properties must be fully understood. In this work, the more direct information possible from multi-modal imaging methods has been combined with the more statistically-representative, multi-scale data from porosimetry, including the rarely-used gas overcondensation technique, to characterise batches of methanol synthesis catalyst tablets made using different feed types. Despite the hierarchies of complexity of the porous pellets revealed by the computerised X-ray tomography and FIB-SEM images, the impact on mass transfer of controlled modifications to the void space, achieved through mercury porosimetry, could be modelled using a relatively simple random pore-bond network. The characteristic parameters for the model were obtained from a percolation theory-based analysis of the overcondensation data. A quantitative relationship was thereby obtained between the structural information contained within the overcondensation isotherms and the rate of mass uptake of gas into the porous pellets. This revealed the differential importance to mass transfer of particular sets of pores, associated with certain pellet structural features, and the impact on tortuosity of pellet fabrication parameters such as particle feed size.


Mousa, S., Novak, V., Fletcher, R. S., Garcia, M., Macleod, N., Corfield, M., & Rigby, S. P. (2023). Integration of multi-scale porosimetry and multi-modal imaging in the study of structure-transport relationships in porous catalyst pellets. Chemical Engineering Journal, 452(Part 1), Article 139122.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 6, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 15, 2022
Publication Date Jan 15, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 16, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 16, 2023
Journal Chemical Engineering Journal
Print ISSN 1385-8947
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 452
Issue Part 1
Article Number 139122
Keywords Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering; General Chemical Engineering; Environmental Chemistry; General Chemistry
Public URL
Publisher URL


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