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Chemical Engineering Laboratory (CEL)

The CEL is a reinforced concrete block building with two laboratory areas containing high-pressure reactor systems for chemical process development. In the outer laboratory area, placed in fume hoods, are three small stirred batch reactors for use in preliminary testing of chemical processes or catalyst formulations.


These reactors have internal volumes of 100 or 300 milliliters and can be operated at up to 300°C and 2500 psig. They are equipped with a liquid phase sample removal system which can be operated at high-temperature and high-pressure processing conditions.

The inner high-pressure reactor room contains two continuous flow reactor systems used in fixed-bed, liquid phase, heterogenous catalytic processing. One unit has a 400 milliliter internal volume tubular reactor while the other has a 1-liter reactor volume.

Catalytic Hydrogenation Reactor

Both reactor systems are heated with individual circulating oil heating baths. The reactors are operable at up to 3000 psig and 300°C. Process flow is controlled by individual high-pressure metering syringe pumps. Each unit has a dual piston pump which can maintain online continuous flow by automatic changeover and refill of the 500 milliliter syringe cylinders. Data acquisition and process control is maintained through a Labview computer-based system.

All of these reactors typically involve catalytic processing and hydrogen reactions. The CEL has a stand-alone hydrogen compressor which feeds the building's hydrogen supply system. Hydrogen at up to 3000 psig can be fed into any or all of the reactors simultaneously.

The CEL also contains a chromatographic gas analysis system with both thermal conductivity and flame ionization detector capability.

Bio-based Product Research

PNNL Information