The Planetary Chemistry Laboratory at Washington University in Saint Louis

October 29, 2009

Industrial Chemistry

Filed under: — Hugh @ 11:04

CONDOR – Applications

Chemical thermodynamics began to be applied to industrial chemistry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Bosch-Haber ammonia synthesis is the outstanding example of such applications and led to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Haber in 1919 and for Bosch in 1933. Haber’s book Thermodynamics of Technical Gas Reactions, first published in Munich in 1905 and later published in English in 1908 with some additional material, describes how chemical thermodynamics began to be applied to industry, although his seminal work on ammonia synthesis was done later and is not described in detail in this book. However, Haber’s work on ammonia synthesis is described in a chapter by Topham (1985) and in lesser detail in his 1919 Nobel Prize lecture.

Below are several examples showing applications of the CONDOR code to various problems in industrial chemistry.

Production of Hydrogen by the Steam Cracking of Ethane, 1000 K and 1 atm.

Calculated Mole Fractions
Gas Smith and Missen CONDOR
CO2 0.0615 0.0628
H2O 0.1716 0.1702
CO 0.1566 0.1553
H2 0.6028 0.6043
CH4 7.51×10-3 7.446×10-3
C2H4 1.076×10-8 1.004×10-8
C2H2 3.56×10-11 3.553×10-11
C2H6 1.88×10-8 1.647×10-8
O2 6.15×10-22 6.097×10-22

Producer Gas

Prior to the exploitation of natural gas, fuel gases were manufactured by blowing air-steam mixtures through a bed of hot coke. This gas is known as producer gas. The example below compares the composition of a typical producer gas to that predicted by the CONDOR code. The air-steam mixture (82.55 % air, 17.45 % steam) is blown through hot coke (assumed to be pure graphite) at 700 ºC and 1 atmosphere pressure. The gas compositions are given in volume percent.

Volume %
Gas CONDOR Producer Gas
CO 26.28 26.74
H2 11.83 12.04
CO2 6.98 6.67
H2O 1.94 1.94
CH4 0.18 0.05
N2 52.78 52.56


99.99 100.00


  1. Shreve’s Chemical Process Industries, 5th ed. revised by G. T. Austin (earlier editions are by R. N. Shreve or Shreve and R. T. Brink), 1984, McGraw-Hill, pp.89-100.
  2. Kobe, K. A. and T. W. Leland 1954. The Calculation of Chemical Equilibrium in a Complex System. Special Publication No. 26 of the Bureau of Engineering Research, The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
  3. Smith, W. R. and R. W. Missen 1991. Chemical Reaction Equilibrium Analysis: Theory and Algorithms. Krieger Publishing Co., Malabar, Florida.
  4. Topham, S. A. 1985. The history of the catalytic sysnthesis of ammonia. In Catalysis: Science and Technology (J. R. Anderson and M. Boudart, Eds.) pp. 1-50. Springer-Verlag, New York.

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