Faculty Advisor

David DiBiasio

Faculty Advisor

Nikolas Kazantzis


A mathematical modeling framework for the methane steam reforming reaction operating in steady state has been developed. Performances are compared between the classic catalytic packed bed reactor and a Pd-based catalytic membrane reactor. Isothermal simulations on MATLAB © has first been conducted and show a higher performance of the membrane reactor over the packed bed reactor. Methane conversion of 1 can be reached for lower temperatures than used with industrial PBR, and better performances are shown for an increase in the operating pressure. Optimum conditions were defined for Temperature (500-600 Celsius), reaction side pressure (16-40 bars), membrane thickness (1-7 micrometers), steam/methane ratio (3-4), reactor length (5-10 meters) and permeate sweep ratio (20 or more). This model was validated by multiple recognized sources. Adiabatic simulations were conducted in order to develop a mathematical model base for non-isothermal simulations. The membrane reactor is again showing a higher conversion of methane compared to the packed bed reactor, however the heat loss due to the membrane and the hydrogen leaving through the tube is decreasing the performances of the MR over the PBR compared to the isothermal case. Results show also that most of the reaction occurs at the very beginning of the reactor.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Chemical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





methane steam reforming, modeling