GPT - Thermo-Chemical Processes Group Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Ingeniería de Aragón. Universidad de Zaragoza
Bench scale hydrothermal processing unit:
The bench-scale hydrothermal processing unit is a versatile setup that enables to conduct catalytic tests using gas and/or liquid feedstocks under pressurized conditions. Initially, this rig was conceived as a scale-up of the microscale pressurized unit also available in our facilities. However, the bench-scale test rig has been designed and constructed not only with the goal of a greater processing capacity, but also aiming at a greater flexibility and a much easier maintenance upon processing of various “dirty” or difficult-to-handle feedstocks, e.g. biomass pyrolysis liquids (bio-oil).
Thus, the bench-scale hydrothermal processing unit, initially designed for conducting studies on the Aqueous Phase Reforming (APR) process of different feedstocks (incl. crude glycerol, bio-oil, black-liquor, etc.), may also be utilized in other processes involving pressurized conditions. The setup permits to connect different reactors with the sole limitation of the dimensions of the electric furnace used to heat up the reactor.
The setup counts on three mass-flow controllers for three different gas lines (currently N2, H2 and synthetic air) that could be easily customized to feed, e.g., CH4, CO, propane, etc. The pressure limit has been established at a maximum of 60 bar, but could also be increased with minor modifications. Notwithstanding, the limit would be constrained by the reactor design and the reaction temperatures utilized.
The liquid feedstocks are fed in by means of a HPLC metering pump and the reactor outlet has a condensing system destined to collect the liquid fraction. The gas fraction is quantitatively analysed by means of a micro gas chromatograph which analyses product gas samples online every 2-3 min, using N2 as an internal standard.

Tech. Spec.

  • Liquid inlet: Waters 505 HPLC metering pump, max. flow rate capacity: 10 mL/min.
  • Gas inlet: 3 Bronkhorst HI-TEC EL-FLOW® Metal Sealed F-211 mass flow controllers with a maximum capacity of 3 N L/min each.
  • 1.1 kW Electric furnace, with a maximum temperature limit of 1000 ºC, controlled by means of a Eurotherm 3216 PID controller and a K-type thermocouple.
  • Rig constructing materials: AISI 316 stainless steel
  • Maximum allowable reactor volume: 0.5 L approx.
  • Current maximum nominal pressure: 60 bar
  • Pressure control system based on a servo-controlled micrometric valve
  • Control loop done by means of data supplied by 2 pressure sensors located up and downstream the reactor.
  • Gas analysis: Agilent G2801A Micro GC equipped with 2 analysis modules using TCD detectors. Modules: Plot U (with Plot Q pre-column), He carrier, and MolSieve 5A, Ar carrier. Possibility of analysing H2S and up to C3 hydrocarbons.
  • Computerized data acquisition system

Research projects

  • Reformado en fase acuosa de corrientes residuales de varios procesos industriales (ENE2010-18985) – Aqueous phase reforming of residual streams from various industrial processes.
    • Funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Spanish Research Council).
    • Period: 2011-2013.
    • Research leader: Dr. Lucía García.
    • Total budget: 227,000.00 €


Remón, J., Bimbela, F., Ruiz, J., Oliva, M., García, L.: “Aqueous phase reforming of crude glycerol from biodiesel production: influence of glycerol concentration”, in Proceedings of the 20th European Biomass Conference, Milano (Italy), 2012.
European Comission Brisk
The Thermochemical Processes Group (GPT) is partly funded by the EU's European Social Fund and by the Gobierno de Aragón (Aragonese government)
EU's European Social Fund Gobierno de Aragón