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Chemical and biological reactor design

academic year

Course teacher(s)

Frédéric DEBASTE (Coordinator) and David CANNELLA

ECTS credits


Language(s) of instruction


Course content

After an introduction (chapter 1), the course is divided in 3 parts, each dealing with a specific scale relevent to the reactor. A forth part, on bioreactor, ends the course

Part 1: chemical or biological reaction scale

Chapter 2: reminder on ideal reactors

Chapter 3: composed reaction scheme (serie, parrallel reaction, selectivity), enzymatic reactions (Michaelis-Menten, inhibitions)

Part 2: flow scale

Chapter 4: Residence time distribution and transfer function

Chapter 5: Application to reactors (compartment models, dispersive plug flow, short-circuits, dead volumen, tanks in serie)

Chapter 6: Impact on reactor efficiency (parrallel flow model)

Part 3: mass transfer scale

Chapter 7: reminder about mass transfer

Chapter 8: general strategy on coupling reaction and mass transfer

Chapter 9: reaction catalysed by solid (Thiele modulus, catalyst efficiency)

Chapter 10: reaction between a fluid and a solid (shrinking core model)

Chapter 11: reaction in non-miscible fluid (2 films models, Hatta number, acceleration factor, kLa)

Part 4 : bioreactors

Objectives (and/or specific learning outcomes)

The objective of this course is to lead the student to aprehend the tools to design non ideal chemical and biological reactors using a strategy based on the identification and the analysis, including mathematical modelling, of physico-chemical phenomena taking place in the reactor.

Prerequisites and Corequisites

Required and Corequired knowledge and skills

  • Transport phenomena (mostly mass transport)
  • Equilibrium thermodynamics
  • Ideal reaction design
  • Differential equation solving
  • Numerical methods for equation resolutions
  • (Bio) chemical kinetics

Teaching methods and learning activities

For each part, the basic principles and framework are given at courses. Classical theoretical calculations are realized in groups in seminar. The principles are then applied in exercices sessions of growing difficulty and nearing practical applications. Practical on computer (applying numericl methos in MS Excel ) allow to tackle a practical application from biotechnology, food industry or environment engineering.

References, bibliography, and recommended reading

Main references : (available at the Bibliothèque des sciences et techniques of ULB and/or at TIPs department)

  • O. Levenspiel, Chemical Reaction Engineering, 1998

  • H. Fogler, Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering, 2005

  • R. Bird, W. Steward, E. Lightfoot Transport phenomena, 2006

Course notes

  • Université virtuelle

Other information



Service Transferts, Interfaces et Procédés (CP.165/67)

Office : S.UB5.159

tel: +32-2-650.67.56

fax: +32-2-650.29.10



Solbosch, Plaine


Method(s) of evaluation

  • written examination
  • Oral examination
  • Oral presentation
  • Group work

written examination

  • Open book examination
  • Open question with developed answer

Oral examination

  • Examination with preparation
  • Open question with long development

Oral presentation

Group work

The evaluation combines continuous evaluation and a final oral exam.

The continuous evaluation is realized trough 3 contributions (one short oral presentation by 2, and two written report, also by 2 students) related to exercises on the course topic.
In january, the final exam is written. For this exam, a general problem dealing with the 3 first parts of the course is given. Theory questions for part 4 are also given.

In the second session, a similar exam, but oral, is organized

Mark calculation method (including weighting of intermediary marks)

The final mark is composed at 7/20 by the year mark coming from the continuous evaluation and at 13/20 by the exam mark (9 points for parts 1 to 3, 4 points for part 4).
The year mark is automatically transfered to the second session. The year mark is not transfered from one year to another.

Language(s) of evaluation

  • english
  • (if applicable french )