Postdoc - Numerical simulation of reactive fixed beds with OpenFOAM

Jan 31, 2018
Mar 30, 2018
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
The Process Experimentation division at IFPEN aims at conducting experiments to address the needs of the IFPEN results centers and of its industrial partners. It also develops its own experimental installations to answer its own needs and those of other divisions at IFPEN.

The subject mainly addresses numerical simulations of coupled phenomena in both solids and fluids,

The subject of this postdoc is about complex and coupled reactive fluid flow numerical simulations in fixed catalytic beds. Heterogeneous catalysis, i.e. when the catalyst is a solid, is used in many chemical and petro-chemical processes. This project aims at better understanding the interaction phenomena inside fixed catalytic beds involving liquids, gases and solids in order to better model this type of reactor in industrial projects.

Over the past decades, simulation tools have gained in precision and reliability to cover more and more complex coupled physics. However, full real size pilot reactors can still not be predicted numerically, even nowadays. The coupling of multiphase flows (G/L/S), heat transfer, mass transfers (including phase change and porous media within the catalyst), and chemical reactions occurring in the solid phase is still an unaddressed challenge.


Years of research and development at IFPEN have tried to solve these scientific bottlenecks. The present postdoc tries with OpenFOAM to offer an new insight to tackle long-lasting questions like :

  • The prediction of pressure drop in fixed beds for complex catalyst shapes
  • Repeatability of results (pressure drop and conversion) due to stochastic loadings of catalyst beds
  • Non-reactive mass transfers: G/L or L/S mass transfers
  • The prediction of axial dispersion.
  • The computation of concentration profiles in a reactive flow reactor in order to quantify:
  • For thermal and reactive flows: The coupling of heat and mass transfer for highly endo / exothermic reactions in order to predict radial gradients and their effect on the results.

In a first step, these questions will be studied for single phase flow (gas or liquid). Then, we will focus on the feasibility of G/L and extend to G/L/S reactive flow simulations in fixed beds.

IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) is a major research and training player in the fields of energy, transport and the environment.

From research to industry, technological innovation is central to all its activities, structured around three strategic priorities: sustainable mobility, new energies and responsible oil and gas.


As part of the public-interest mission with which it has been tasked by the public authorities, IFPEN focuses on:

  • Providing solutions to take up the challenges facing society in terms of energy and the climate, promoting the transition towards sustainable mobility and the emergence of a more diversified energy mix;
  • Creating wealth and jobs by supporting French and European economic activity, and the competitiveness of related industrial sectors.