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Design and fabrication of microfluidic devices for multiphase mixing and reaction

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5 Author(s)
M. W. Losey ; Dept. of Chem. Eng., MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA ; R. J. Jackman ; S. L. Firebaugh ; M. A. Schmidt
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Using silicon microfabrication technology, microchemical devices have been constructed for the purpose of conducting heterogeneously catalyzed multiphase reactions. The motivation behind the design, the fabrication approach, and the experimental characterization are presented for two classes of devices. The first design involves multiple parallel channels with integrated filter structures to incorporate standard catalytic materials. These catalysts are in the form of finely divided porous particles in a packed-bed arrangement. The second device involves the incorporation of porous silicon as a catalyst support, in the form of a thin layer covering microstructured channels. These microstructured channels simulate the structure of a packed bed and enhance mass transfer relative to an open channel. The ability to incorporate features at the tens-of-microns scale can reduce the mass-transfer limitations by promoting mixing and dispersion for the multiple phases. Directly integrating the catalyst support structures into the channels of the microreactor allows the precise definition of the bed properties, including the support's size, shape and arrangement, and the void fraction. Such a design would find broad applicability in enhancing the transport and active surface area for sensing, chemical, and biochemical conversion devices. Reaction rates for the gas-liquid-solid hydrogenation of cyclohexene using the integrated catalyst with porous silicon as a support compare favorably to those rates obtained with the packed-bed approach. In both cases, the mass transfer coefficient is at least 100 times better than conventional laboratory reactors.

Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems  (Volume:11 ,  Issue: 6 )