The World's First 3D Printed Chemical Reactor

November 03, 2016

The World's First 3D Printed Chemical Reactor

This Blog Post is from our Friends at 3Ders.org and it was written by Tess - 

A team of researchers from French energy company IFP Énergies Nouvelles (IFPEN) have developed an innovative method for 3D printing a metal chemical reactor using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). The 3D printed chemical reactor, the first of its kind, will be used in the production of clean fuels and energy.

According to IFPEN, while metal 3D printing has been established within the aerospace and automotive industry, their 3D designed and printed chemical reactor is a significant step forward, as it must be operated at high temperature and pressure conditions, and must house reactions between gas, liquids, and solids. The 3D printed chemical reactor, which possesses a complex and miniaturized geometry impossible to achieve with traditional manufacturing methods, will be used in the development and testing of fuel producing methods.

As mentioned, digital design and 3D printing were crucial in the development of this specialized agitated chemical reactor, as the research team used additive manufacturing both in the prototyping and final production of the chemical reactor. As a press release explains, IFPEN researchers combined numerical modeling tools to simulate fluid flows (CFD) with experimental validation techniques, such as 3D printing, to develop the innovative product.

For the prototyping process, the researchers first 3D printed the chemical reactor model out of a transparent resin material (in collaboration with Additive3D), which was then subjected to a number of hydrodynamic tests. The transparency of the resin allowed the team to see the complex internal geometries of the chemical reactor, and both technologies combined allowed for fast review and prototype turnover times. Once the final chemical reactor design was confirmed, 3D printing was also used to manufacture the metal reactor. The metal 3D printing process was realized in collaboration with 3D&P, a tech "spin-off" of French industrial group Aubry Finance.

Impressively, the 3D printed chemical reactor actually came closer to its original specifications than if it was made with more traditional methods, an achievement which could ultimately result in a more advanced level of control for the hydrodynamic fluid in the chemical reactor.

 

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