The abundance of shale gas has increased the interest in methane valorization via catalytic conversion. Methane can be used as a feedstock to produce valuable chemicals, mostly by first producing syngas via reforming, followed by one or more catalytic conversion steps. Well-known examples are the methanol-to-olefins (MTO), methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) and the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) processes. Other routes for the valorization of shale gas exist, e.g. the catalytic oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) to produce ethylene.
For the development of new catalyst formulations for these processes, it is crucial to perform well-defined catalyst performance tests. The catalyst tests should provide information on the intrinsic activity of the materials, which facilitates improvement developments between generations of catalysts.
Avantium has used its parallel miniature fixed bed catalyst-testing platform (Flowrence) in many areas of catalysis. This platform has been successfully used to develop and optimize a large variety of catalytic processes, ranging from refining applications, gas-to-liquids, chemicals and biomass conversion. This miniaturized technology has demonstrated to achieve scalable results , even in the presence of highly exothermic reactions, which could hinder catalytic performance. In addition, the our high throughput technology (HTT) allows us to simultaneously evaluate up to 64 catalyst / process conditions , reducing significantly the time required to screen new materials or evaluate process parameters.
In this talk, we will show the design considerations taken to evaluate materials in a miniaturized parallel system, under kinetically control and near ideal conditions. These design considerations include, among others, precise and accurate control of the feed flow rate using glass chips and our proprietary active liquid distributors based on microfluidics technology, improved reactor-to-reactor pressure control by means of an active pressure controller, which can reduce the pressure difference in parallel reactors well below 5% of the operational pressure and accurate temperature control that guarantee quasi-isothermal operation.
Several applications will be used to explain the capabilities and design considerations. These include Fischer-Tropsch, OCM and MTO. Each of these applications have challenges to achieve proper control of the test conditions. For the MTO process, temperature and pressure were shown to have a critical effect. In addition, the fast deactivating behavior of SAPO-34 materials used in MTO represented an analytical challenge that was overcome by the use of a 16-loop sampling valve coupled with a gas chromatograph.
 R Moonen, J Alles, E Ras, C Harvey, JA Moulijn, Chemical Engineering & Technology 40 (11), 2025-2034
 EJ Ras, S Gomez-Quero, Topics in Catalysis 57 (17-20), 1392-1399
 JC van der Waal, EJ Ras, CM Lok, R Moonen, N van der Puil, Modern Applications of High Throughput R&D in Heterogeneous Catalysis, 197