The Different Types Of Reactors In Chemical Engineering

A chemical reactor refers to the process vessels use to perform a chemical reaction. Reactors usually vary in size and, thus, are never the same. An example of this is the kiln that is used to produce lime from limestone, which may be 25 metres high and can hold materials above 400 tonnes. Also, the design of the reactor will depend on certain factors but mostly the kinetics and thermodynamics of the chemical reactions. There are different types of reactors in chemical engineering, and they include batch and continuous reactors. Usually, the most basic types of chemical reactors are tubes, pipes, and tanks. Below is a brief description of the reactors.

Different Types Of Reactors In Chemical Engineering

Batch Reactors

types of reactors in chemical engineering

This is the simplest type of reactor. What happens is that the reactants are put in a beaker, flask, or test tube. They are then mixed and then heated to allow the reaction to take place. After the reaction takes place, the content in the beaker is left to cool. Usually, batch reactors are used in reactions that take place in the laboratory. Also, this process may be used in the industries. The only difference between this and the reaction in the laboratory is the quantities of the reactors and the size of the reactors.

Batch reactors are usually used in industries that produce a range of products that have different reactors and reactor conditions. Some of the examples of processes that make use of the batch reactor include the manufacture of margarine and colorants. Note that the batch process is usually good for small scale production and in processes where different products need to be produced in the same equipment.

Continuous Reactors

continuous glass reactor

Apart from the batch reactors, there is a continuous reactor. Continuous rectors are not used in laboratories because they are more suitable for large scale production. What happens with continuous reactors is that the reactants are continuously passed in the reactor where the chemical reaction takes place. However, the end product is received at another point. Continuous reactors are usually used in industries that produce large quantities of chemicals. Note that there are two types of continuous reactors, namely the continuous stirred-tank reactor and the tubular reactors.

When it comes to continuous stirred tank reactors, the reactants are put in a reactor that is fitted with an impeller. The impeller is responsible for mixing the reagents well to ensure that there is continuous, homogeneous composition. The tubular reactor process varies from the continuous stirred -tank reactors. In the tubular reactors, there is a pipe in which one or more fluid reagents flow at high velocity. The chemical reaction usually takes place in the tubular reactors as the reagents pass through. As the reagents pass through the tubes, they are slowly transformed into products. As long as there is a high velocity, the products will not be able to dilute back, and hence, there is little or no room for back blending.


The chemical engineering process is a bit complex. There is a chemical reaction that has to take place for there to be end products. The above reactors are commonly used in laboratories and industries.