Diploma and master thesis


Erik HAIKALA, Modeling of a rotodynamic reactor, Master thesis, Aalto University, August 2023, COOLBRROK


Steam cracking is one of the most significant petrochemical processes, with products such as ethylene serving as some of the most important base chemicals. Unfortunately, steam cracking is also one of the most energy consuming and polluting processes in the entire chemical industry. The pressure towards decarbonization has resulted in immense interest towards the electrification of the steam cracking process, one significant example being the shockwave heating based RotoDynamic Reactor (RDR) being developed by Coolbrook.

In addition to providing a general overview of the steam cracking process and conventional steam cracking equipment, the literature review part of this thesis aimed to collect and classify examples of undergoing developments towards electric steam cracking. Relevant journal articles, patents, and industrial publications were collected and classified into a framework of types of electrification technology, with the key finding being that while other forms of electric heating may be appealing for upgrading existing equipment, shockwave heating has the potential to bypass many of the existing limitations of conventional cracking.

The applied part of the thesis focused on the task of importing state-of-the-art steam cracking kinetic models generated with RMG to Aspen Plus, with the eventual aim of modeling the RDR. The most significant part of the work covered creating a tool for translating RMG-generated kinetic models into Aspen Plus input files. Although the viability of the tool was limited by model convergence within Aspen Plus, ethane cracking with the RDR could be simulated at different residence times and severities, resulting in the desired characteristic temperature profiles of the RDR. Ultimately, product distributions observed for the RDR differed very little from the product distributions of conventional cracking coils.

Permanent link to this item:  http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:aalto-202309105765