Date of Graduation

Spring 2018

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Chemical Engineering

Research Sponsor

George Chase

First Reader

Bi-min Zhang Newby

Second Reader

Edward Evans


The reaction kinetic parameters for the hydrogenation of phenol to cyclohexanone are determined for the liquid phase reaction with the palladium catalyst supported on an electrospun PVDF membrane. Runs of the reactor were completed at catalyst loadings of 40, 50, and 60 g/m2, and tube diameters of 0.187 in and 0.25 in with a runtime of ten hours. One-dimensional and two-dimensional models of the experimental setup were developed. Fitting data to the one-dimensional model found that the pre-exponential factor was 2.50 x 104, the activation energy was 7.69 kJ/mol, and the order with respect to phenol was 0.171. The two-dimensional model improves on the one-dimensional model by accounting for diffusion from the bulk solution to the surface of the tube. A computer program using a genetic algorithm was written in order to fit the data to the two-dimensional model. The genetic algorithm was tested using an elliptic paraboloid for the objective function. The test program was found to require approximately 800000 generations reaching a convergence of 10-6. The results of the test were within three significant figures of the expected location of the minimum of the paraboloid.