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Journal of Thermal Science Vol.17, No.

(2008)

8489

DOI: 10.1007/s11630-008-0084-z

Article ID: 1003-2169(2008)01-0084-06

Bifurcation behaviors of catalytic combustion in a micro-channel


Wen Zeng a*

Maozhao Xie b

Hongan Maa

Wei Xua

School of Aero-engine and Energy Engineering, Shenyang Institute of Aeronautical Engineering, Shenyang 110034,
China
b
School of Energy and Power Engineering, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian 116024, China

Bifurcation analysis of ignition and extinction of catalytic combustion in a short micro-channel is carried out with
the laminar flow model incorporated as the flow model. The square of transverse Thiele modulus and the residence time are used as bifurcation parameters. The influences of different parameters on ignition and extinction
behavior are investigated. It is shown that all these parameters have great effects on the bifurcation behaviors of
ignition and extinction in the short micro-channel. The effects of flow models on bifurcation behaviors of combustion are also analyzed. The results show that in comparison with the flat velocity profile model, for the case of
the laminar flow model, the temperatures of ignition and extinction of combustion are higher and the unsteady
multiple solution region is larger.

Keywords: catalytic combustion, bifurcation theory, short monolith

Introduction
Catalytic monoliths are used in automobile converts,
power generation, partial oxidation reactions and selective removal of NOx from exhaust gases[13]. The monolith reactor contains a large number of small, long micro-channels (in parallel) through which the reacting gas
flows. The catalyst is deposited on the wall of the monolith reactor either as a porous wash-coat layer or on the
wall of the micro-channels[46]. While conventional
combustion occurs in the presence of a flame, catalytic
combustion is a flameless process taking place at lower
temperatures, therefore, results in lower emissions of
nitrogen oxides[7]. Furthermore, catalytic combustion
offers fewer constrains concerning flammability limits
and reactor design. These advantages of catalytic combustion permit its potential wide applications.
The reactant inside the micro-channel is transported to
the surface by transverse diffusion and is carried forward
by convection and axial diffusion, thus producing con-

centration gradients in both axial and radial directions.


The steady-state behavior of a micro-channel is described
by partial differential equations in at least two dimensions (radial and axial) with the nonlinear reaction terms
appearing in the boundary conditions. Since the solution
of such models is time consuming, several different simplified models were developed in the past in order to illustrate the phenomenon occurring in the monolithic
catalysts and to determine the simplest model that retains
all the qualitative features of the system[811]. Balakotaiah,
Gupta and West presented a new simplified model
(named as the short monolith or SM model) for a catalytic micro-channel that retained all the qualitative
steady-state bifurcation features of the full two-dimensional model[12]. They used the SM model to study the
steady-state bifurcation behavior of the micro-channel
and derived many analytical results. However, in their
bifurcation analysis, the flat velocity profile was used as
the flow model, which is not an ideal flow model for the
gas flow in the micro-channel[13].

Received: August 2007


Wen ZENG: Associate professor
www.springerlink.com

Wen Zeng et al. Bifurcation behaviors of catalytic combustion in a micro-channel

85

Nomenclature
B
c
c
Lef
P
Greek letters
Y
R
Subscripts

Peclet number
radial co-ordinate
axial co-ordinate

adiabatic temperature rise


dimensionless concentration
axial average concentration
fluid Lewis number
radial Peclet number

Pe
r
x
z

dimensionless radial distance


dimensionless axial average temperature

Gs

T

transverse Thiele modulus


dimensionless temperature

surface (or solid phase)

mean

In this paper, a complete bifurcation analysis of the


short micro-channel by using the laminar flow model
instead of the flat velocity profile as the flow model is
presented. The square of the transverse Thiele modulus
and the residence time is used as bifurcation parameter.
The effects of parameters such as Gs , B, Lef and P on
steady combustion characteristics are analyzed. Moreover,
the effects of the flow models (the flat velocity profile
and the laminar flow model) on the bifurcation behaviors
and the steady characteristics of catalytic combustion in
the micro-channel are presented.

dimensionless axial distance

R  R Y
 R Y , z
dz and integrated the two- di0

mensional model from z = 0 to 1 and obtain

1 d Y dc P f Y
1 c
 0

Y dY dY

1 d Y dR  P f Y
R  0

Y dY dY Le

f
with boundary conditions
dc dY  0 , dR dY  0 , Y  0
d c d [  I 2 R c , T 2 ,

(3)
(4)

(5a)

Formulation of the SM model


A cylindrical micro-channel on its surface occur a single first-order exothermic reaction is considered. The
physical properties (such as the density, heat and mass
diffusivities) are assumed to remain constant and the micro-channel is azimuthal symmetry. With these assumptions, the steady-state two-dimensional model in dimensionless form[12] is given by
sc 1 1 s sc 1 s 2 c
f Y

(1)
Y
sz P Y sY sY Pe sz 2
sR Le f 1 s sR Le f s 2R

(2)

Y
sz
P Y sY sY Pe sz 2
The boundary conditions and various dimensionless
groups appearing in above equations are as shown in [12].
For the case of laminar flow inside the channel,
f Y

f Y
 2 1  Y 2 .

When the characteristic time for longitudinal diffusion


is much smaller compared to that for transverse diffusion,
convection and reaction ( R  L , Pe  1, G 2  1 ),
the axial gradients within the micro-channel can be ignored and the model can be simplified by integrating the
equations in the axial direction.
1

Assumed c  c Y
 c Y , z
dz ,
0

c , R
2 Le f
,
where, R c , R
 c exp R 1 R r

.
dR dY 

B Gs2 R

Y 1

(5b)

A comparison with the general model has shown that


the results of the SM model presented an ideal agreement
that retained all the qualitative steady-state bifurcation
features of the full two-dimensional model as shown in
[12]. Hence, in this paper, this model is also used to perform a bifurcation analysis of ignition and extinction of
catalytic combustion in a short micro-channel. However,
differing from [12] in which the flat velocity profile was
used as flow model, the laminar flow model is used as
our flow model.
In this paper, the bifurcation behaviors of a short micro-channel are focused on. Since the steady-state bifurcation features are dependent on the choice of bifurcation
variable, two such choices are considered here. In the
first case, the transverse Thiele modulus ( Gs2 ) is taken as
the bifurcation variable. In the second case, the residence
time is taken as the bifurcation variable.

Classification of the bifurcation diagrams with


Thiele modulus as the bifurcation parameter
With the transverse Thiele modulus taken as the bifurcation parameter, the bifurcation characters of Tm and

86

J.Therm. Sci., Vol.17, No.1, 2008

Ts are presented. In general, there are only two types of


bifurcation diagrams of Tm and Ts versus Gs2 , namely,
single-valued and S-shaped diagram. The parameters that
determine the shape of the bifurcation diagram are P, B
and Lef. Therefore, in this section, the effects of these
parameters on the shape of bifurcation diagrams of Tm
and Ts are discussed.

Effect of Lef on the bifurcation diagrams of T


Fig.2 shows bifurcation diagrams of T and Ts versus
2
Gs for B = 5.0 and two different values of P (0.1,10.0)
and Lef (0.2, 2.0) respectively.
14
12

Effect of p on bifurcation diagrams of T

solid

P=0.1

6
fluid

P=10.0

2
0 -4
10

P=10.0

10

-3

-2

10
2
Is

13
12
Lef=0.3 B=5.0
11
10
9
8
7
solid
6
B
5
4
3
2
1
0 -3
-2
10
10

P=10.0

10
T

Fig.1 shows bifurcation diagrams of Tm and Ts versus


2
Gs for B = 5.0, Lef = 0.3 and two different values of
P(0.1,10.0).

Le f=0.2 B=5.0

P=0.1

10

-1

10

10

P=0.1

Le f=2.0 B=5.0

fluid

fluid

P=10.0

solid

3
P=10.0
fluid

2
-1

Is

10

10

Fig. 1 Effect of P on the bifurcation diagrams of T


0

It can be seen that when P  1 , the micro-channel


does behave like a homogeneous reactor and both the
surface and the bulk fluid have simultaneous ignition/extinction. In this case both the fluid and solid (surface) temperatures are always close to each other and
reach an asymptotic value that is equal to B for large
Thiele modulus. For the case of P  1 , there are large
radial gradients inside the micro-channel and once the
mixed gas on the catalyst surface is ignited, the microchannel operates in the mass transfer limited regime. It
should be noted that at ignition though the surface jumps
to a maximum temperature of B Le f , the fluid mean
temperature goes to Bxm, where xm is the conversion
achieved in the mass transfer limited regime for the corresponding transverse Peclet number (P). At the same
time, for the case of =10.0, compared with P = 0.1, the
temperatures of ignition/extinction of the bulk fluid are
lowered, and the temperature of ignition of the mixed gas
on the catalyst surface remains constant, however, the
temperature of extinction of the mixed gas on the catalyst
surface is increased.

10

-3

10

-2

10

-1

10

Is

Fig. 2

Effect of Lef on the bifurcation diagram of T

As showed in Fig.2, for the case of P = 10.0, with the


value of Lef increasing, the shapes of the bifurcation diagrams of Tm and Ts change from the S-shape to the single-valued diagram. Moreover, the regions of multiple
solutions of Tm and Ts are narrower and the temperatures
of ignition and extinction of the bulk fluid remain constant, however, the extinction temperatures of the mixed
gas on the catalyst surface is lower. For the case of P =
0.1, with the value of Lef increasing, the bifurcation diagrams of Tm and Ts still remain S-shaped, but the regions
of multiple solutions are narrower. Moreover, the temperatures of the ignition and extinction of the bulk fluid
and the mixed gas on the catalyst surface remain constant.

Effect of B on the bifurcation diagrams of T


Fig.3 shows bifurcation diagrams of Tm and Ts versus

Wen Zeng et al. Bifurcation behaviors of catalytic combustion in a micro-channel

Gs2 for Lef = 0.1 and two different values of P (0.1,10.0)


and B (2.0,5.0) respectively.

B=2.0 Le f=0.1

P=10.0

4
P=0.1
solid

fluid
P=10.0

0 -3
10

20

10

-2

-1

10
I2s

10

10

B=5.0 Le f=0.1
P=10.0

15

87

Lef = 0.2, B = 3.0 and two different values of Is (0.1,1.0).


For the case of 1 P 1 , for arbitrary values of Is, Ts
will reach a constant (B), however, for the case of
1 P  1 and Is =1.0, a multiple solutions region of Ts
will be observed. When the value of Is reduced to 0.1,
the multiple solutions regime of Ts will disappear. The
reason can be detected from the physical meaning ofIs.
The square of transverse Thiele modulus,Is2, is the ratio
of the radial diffusion time to the reaction time. With Is
increasing, the micro-channel operates in the mass transfer limited regime. There are large radial temperature
gradients inside the micro-channel between the bulk fluid
and the mixed gas on the catalyst surface. The process of
combustion of the whole mixed gas in the micro-channel
will be unstable. With Is reducing to 0.1, the microchannel does behave like a homogeneous reactor and
both the surface and the bulk fluid have simultaneous
ignition/extinction points, thus the combustion process of
the whole mixed gas in the micro-channel will be stable.
At the same time, with Is increasing, the temperatures of
ignition/extinction of the mixed gas on the catalyst surface are increased.

10
10

Is=1.0 B=3.0 Lef=0.2


P=0.1

solid

fluid
P=10.0

10

-6

10

-5

10

-4

10

-3

10

-2

10

-1

10

Ts

0 -7
10

Is

Fig. 3 Efect of B on the bifurcation diagram of T


2

10

-7

10

-6

10

-5

-4

10

-3

10
1/P

-2

10

-1

10

10

3.5
3

Is=0.1 B=3.0 Le f=0.2

2.5
2
Ts

For the case of P = 10.0, with the value of B increasing, the region of multiple solutions of Tm and Ts are larger and the temperature of the ignition and extinction of
the bulk fluid and the mixed gas on the catalyst surface
will increased. For the case of P = 0.1, with the value of
B decreasing, the bifurcation diagram of Tm and Ts will
change from the S-shaped diagram to the single-valued
diagram. Moreover, the temperatures of extinction of the
bulk fluid and the mixed gas on the catalyst surface will
be increased.

Classification of the bifurcation diagrams with


residence time as the bifurcation parameter
The steady-state behavior becomes rather complex
when the residence time is taken as the bifurcation variable. In this section, only the effect of parameter Gs on
the bifurcation diagram of Ts is discussed.
Fig.4 shows bifurcation diagrams of Ts versus 1/P for

1.5
1
0.5
0 -1
10

100

101
1/P

102

103

Fig. 4 Effect of Is on the bifurcation diagram of Ts

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J.Therm. Sci., Vol.17, No.1, 2008

Effects of flow models on the bifurcation diagram of Ts


In this Section, the effects of flow models on the bifurcation diagram of Ts are discussed. For the case of flat
velocity profile[12], f Y
 1 .
The bifurcation diagrams with Thiele modulus as the
bifurcation parameter
Fig.5 shows the effects of flow models on the bifurcation diagrams of Ts versus Is2 for Lef = 0.3, B = 5.0 and
two different values of P (0.1,10.0).
6

of the mixed gas on the catalyst surface will be increased.


The bifurcation diagrams with residence time as the
bifurcation parameter
Fig.6 shows the effects of flow models on the bifurcation diagrams of Ts versus 1/P for Lef = 0.2, B = 3.0
andIs = 1.0.
For the laminar flow model, the region of multiple solutions is larger, the peak value of Ts and the temperatures
of the extinction of the mixed gas on the catalyst surface
are higher than that of the flat velocity profile. At the
same time, with the residence time prolonging, for the
two cases, Ts will reach the value of B.
10

channel laminar flow

Is=1.0 B=3.0 Lef=0.2

flat flow

channel laminar flow

Ts

Ts

P=0.1 Le f=0.3 B=5.0

1
0 -3
10

flat flow

2
10

-2

10

I2s

-1

10

10
channel laminar flow

10

-7

10

-6

10

-5

10

-4

-3

10
1/P

10

-2

10

-1

10

Fig. 6 Effect of flow models on the bifurcation diagram of Ts


(for transverse Peclet)

Conclusions

Ts

flat flow

6
4
P=10.0 Le f=0.3 B=5.0

2
0 -3
10

10

-2
2

10

-1

10

Is

Fig. 5 Effect of flow models on the bifurcation diagram of Ts


2
(forIs )

For the case when P = 0.1, the difference for the bifurcation diagram of Ts between the flat velocity profile
and the laminar flow model is small. However, with the
value of P rising, the bifurcation curve of Ts for the
laminar flow model will be stabilized farther away from
the bifurcation curve for the flat velocity profile and the
peak value of Ts will be higher, the region of multiple
solutions is larger and the temperatures of the extinction

In this paper, a two-dimensional model (SM model) of


a micro-channel with a first-exothermic reaction is analyzed. Bifurcation analysis of ignition and extinction of
catalytic combustion in this model is carried out for the
condition when the laminar flow model is used as the
flow model. The square of transverse Thiele modulus and
the residence time is used as bifurcation parameter respectively. The effects of parameters such as B, Lef, P
and Is on the bifurcation diagrams are analyzed. Moreover, the effects of the flow models (the flat velocity profile and the laminar flow model) on the bifurcation behavior and the combustion steady character of catalytic
combustion in the micro-channel are presented. The following results are obtained in this study:
(1) With Thiele modulus as the bifurcation parameter,
the bulk fluid and the mixed gas on the catalyst surface
present obvious bifurcation character with the minichange in Ts2 and the great factors that affect the bifurcation character are B, P and Lef. The region of multiple
solutions is enlarged with Lef decreasing and B, P in-

Wen Zeng et al. Bifurcation behaviors of catalytic combustion in a micro-channel

creasing.
(2) With residence time as the bifurcation parameter,
the region of multiple solutions is narrower with Is decreasing.
(3) With the Thiele modulus as the bifurcation parameter, with the value of P rising, the bifurcation curve
of Ts for the case of the laminar flow model is stabilized
farther away from the bifurcation curve for the case of
flat velocity profile and the peak value of Ts is higher, the
region of multiple solutions becomes larger and the extinction temperatures of the mixed gas on the catalyst
surface are increased.
(4) With residence time as the bifurcation parameter,
for the case of the laminar flow model, the region of
multiple solutions is larger, the peak value of Ts and the
extinction temperatures of the mixed gas on the catalyst
surface are higher than those in the case of the flat velocity profile.

Acknowledgments
This research is supported by the National Key Basic
Research Project of China (No.2001CB209201).

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