What is a Chemical Reactor?

In chemical engineering, chemical reactors are vessels (liquid containers) designed to contain chemical reactions.

The chemical reactions take place inside a vessel we refer to as a reaction vessel.

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A reaction vessel. Notice there is actually a glass inside another. The other glass contain is used to allow cooling liquids to flow through.

Usually it is jacketed, meaning there is a sort of glass container around the main vessel in which oil, water or some other liquid is pumped through to allow cooling of the reaction vessel.

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Illustration showing how there is a glass container outside the vessel which allows the flow of cooling liquids. Many chemical reactions require precise temperatures to happen optimally. Using heating with a bunsen burner and cooling liquids temperatures in the vessel can be adjusted up or down.

To mix everything properly, we have a motor driven agitator suspended in the mix of chemicals. It looks like a propeller.

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The vessel has a lid with many opening to attach different measuring instruments, or tubes for feedstock.

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This is a flat flange lid with five necks.

Parts on the reaction vessel

Manifold

Simply a tube or pipe with many openings, or a tube that splits into many tubes as the one below.

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You will see this referred to in hydroponics systems. Like this one to send nutrient rich water to multiple rows of plants or individual plants.

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The air intake on an internal combustion engine distributes air to each cylinder through a manifold.

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Air intake to internal combusition engine using manipfold to distribute air to each cylinder.

We also have manifolds as a mathematical concept.

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In very simplistic terms it means we have folded some Euclidean space so we can move in one direction and eventually get back to the starting point. E.g. the earth surface might seem like a flat Euclidean space but if you keep moving in one direction you get back to your starting point, since earth is a sphere.

Computer game worlds which wrap around when you exit the borders are also manifolds, but torus shaped.

Flange

A sort of flat disc you can use to connect or attach stuff to a pipe. So e.g. a pipe can have a flange connection.

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They also come as simple discs. The top of a pressure vessel can e.g. be a flange attached with multiple bolts or machine screws.

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Gasket and O-rings

Gasket is a rubber disk between flanges for sealing.

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There are many types of gaskets.

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O-rings are almost the same, except a gasket can be different materials which go between two flat surfaces. An O-ring is always made of rubber and usually used for low pressure washer less faucet. An O-ring is a type of gasket.

Written by

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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