Residence Time Distribution  top 
We shall use the RTD to characterize existing (i.e. real) reactors and then use it to predict exit conversions and concentrations when reactions occur in these reactors.
Inject a tracer and measure exit concentration, C_{T}(t).
From the exit tracer concentration we can determine the following information:
= Fraction of molecules exiting the reactor that have spent a time between (t) and (t + dt) in the reactor.
= Fraction of molecules exiting the reactor that have spent a time t or less in the reactor.
= Fraction of molecules that have spent a time t or greater in the reactor.
1. Mean Residence Time
2. Variance
3. Space Time  For no dispersion/diffusion and v = v_{0}, the space time equals the mean residence time.
4. Internal Age Distribution, = Fraction of molecules inside the reactor that have been inside the reactor between a timeand.
5. Life Expectancy = Fraction of molecules inside the reactor with agethat are expected to leave the reactor in a timeto.
From our experimental data of the exit tracer concentration from pulse trace test
t(min) 
: 
0 
1 
2 
3 
4 
5 
6 
C(mg/m^{3}) 
: 
0 
0 
0.1 
0.2 
0.3 
0.1 
0 
We can obtain
> > > >
RTD for Ideal Reactors  top 
for Ideal Reactors  
PFR Inject a pulse at t=0  
Dirac Delta Function

CSTR  
Laminar (LFR) 
RTD to Diagnose Faulty Operation  top 
Experimentally injecting and measureing the tracer in a laminar flow reactor can be a difficult task, if not a nightmare. For example, if one uses tracer chemicals that are photoactivated as they enter the reactor, the analysis and interpretation of E(t) from the data becomes much more involved.
The CSTR
Concentration  
RTD Function  
Cumulative Function  
Space Time 
a. Perfect Operation
b. Passing (BP)
c. Dead Volume
A summary for ideal CSTR mixing volume is shown in Figure 1314
Tubular Reactor
A similar analysis to that for a CSTR can be carried out on a tubular reactor.
a. Perfect Operation of PFR (P)
b. PFR with Channeling (Bypassing, BP)
c. PFR with Dead Volume (DV)
A summary for PRF is shown in Figure 1318
In addition to its use in diagnosis, the RTD can be used to predict conversion in existing reactors when a new reaction is tried in an old reactor. However, the RTD is not unique for a given system, and we need to develop models for the RTD to predict conversion.
Models to Calculate the Exit Concentrations and Conversions  top 
If using mathematical software to apply the models described below, you may need to fit C(t) and E(t) to a polynomial. The procedure for fitting C(t) and E(t) to a polynomial is identical to the techniques use to fitting concentration as a function of time described in Chapter 5.
Polymath regression analysis tutorial
Use combinations of ideal reactors to model real reactors that could also include: Zero parameter models
One parameter models
Two parameter models

Models the real reactor as a number of small batch reactors, each spending a different time in the reactor. All molecules that spend the same length of time in the reactor (i.e., that are of the same age) remain together in the same globule (i.e., batch reactor). Mixing of the different age groups occurs at the last possible moment at the reactor exit.
Mixing of the globules of different ages occurs here.
Little batch reactors (globules) inside a CSTR.
X_{3}>X_{2}>X_{1}
Mixing occurs at the latest possible moment.Each little batch reactor (globule) exiting the real reactor at different
times will have a different conversion. (X_{1},X_{2},X_{3}...)
But, the mean conversion for the segregation model is
Lets apply the segregation model to an ideal PFR and see if we get the same result for conversion as we did in Chapter 4.
Solve for X(t) for a first order reaction in a batch reactor.
For the batch reactor the conversiontime relationship is
Calculate the mean conversion
which is the same conversion one finds from a mole balance (Chapter 4)
4A.2 Segregation Model Applied to an LFR
For a Laminar flow reactor the RTD function is
The mean conversion is
The last integral is the exponential integral and can be evaluated from tabulated values. Fortunately, Hilder developed an approximate formula (=Da).
Hilder, M.H. Trans. IchemE 59 p143(1979)
For large values of the Damkohler number then there is complete conversion along the streamlines off the center streamline so that the conversion is determined along the pipe axis.
4A.3 Segregation Model Applied to a CSTR
4A.4 Mean Concentration for Multiple Reactions
Solutions Using Software Packages
For multiple reactions use an ODE solver to couple the mole balance equations, dC_{i}/dt=r_{i}, with the segregation model equations: d/dt=C_{i}(t)*E(t), where C_{ i} is the concentration of i in the batch reactor at time t andis the concentration of i after mixing the batch reactors at the exit.
Mixing occurs at the earliest possible moment.
Note E(l)=E(t)
E(l)dl =Fraction of molecules that have a life expectancy between l+dl and l.
Modeling maximum mixedness as a plug flow reactor with side entrances.
Dividing byDland taking the limit asDlgoes to zero. Substitute,
Differentiating the first term and recalling we obtain.
We need to integrate backwards from(the entrance) to= 0 (the exit). In real systems we have some maximum value of(say= 200 minutes) rather thanminutes. Consequently we integrate backward from= 200. However, because most ODE packages will not integrate backwards, we have to use the transfer
z = T to integrate forward
Thus
In terms of conversion,
Comparing Segregation and Maximum Mixedness Predictions  top 
For example, if the rate law is a power law model
From the product [(n)(n1)], we see
If n > 1, then > 0 and X_{seg} > X_{mm} If n < 0, then > 0 and X_{seg} > X_{mm} If 0 > n < 1, then < 0 and X_{seg} < X_{mm} 
Multiple Reactions and RTD Data  top 
For multiple reactions use an ODE solver to couple the mole balance equations, dC_{i}/dt=r_{i} (where r_{i} is the net rate of reaction), with the segregation model equations: dC_{i}/dt=C_{i}(t)*E(t) as previously shown. For maximum mixedness:
To obtain solutions with an ODE solver, first fit E(t) to a polynomial
or several polynomials. Then let
z = T where T is the largest time in which E(t) is recorded. Proceed to solve
the resulting equations.
^{*} All chapter references are for the 4th Edition of the text Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering .