The Batch reactor is the generic term for a type of vessel widely used in the process industries and its name is something of misnomer since vessels of this type are used for a variety of process operations such as dissolution of solid, mixing, reactions, batch distillation, crystallization, liquid/liquid extraction and polymerization. Sometime they are not referred to as reactor but have a name which reflects the role they perform.
A typical batch reactor consists of a tank with agitator and integral heating/cooling system and these vessels may vary in size from less than 1 litre to more than 15,000 litres. Liquids and solids are usually charged via connections in the top cover of the reactor while vapors and gases discharge through connections in the top while liquids are usually discharged out of the bottom.
The advantages of the batch reactor lie with its versatility as a single vessel can carry out a sequence of different operations without the need to break containment which is particularly useful when processing, toxic compounds.
Continuous reactors are devices that allow reactions to be performed as a continual process rather than like batch. Reagents are continually added to the input of the reactor and product continually collected from the output and the reactor is typically tube like and can be manufactured from a variety of materials including stainless steel, glass and polymers. Mixing methods include diffusion and static mixers.
Continuous flow reactors allow good control over reaction conditions including heat transfer, time and mixing and the residence time of the reagents in the reactor is calculated from the volume of the reactor and the flow rate through it. Thus for achieving a longer residence time, reagents can be pumped more slowly and/or a larger volume reactor used.
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