There are two main types of reactors

Chemical reactors are some of the immense structures depicted in photographs of industrial plants. For instance, kilns used in the manufacture of limestone may be more than 25 meters high and can hold more than 400 tones of materials. Various factors influence the design of chemical reactors including the reactants used and the chemical reactions involved. There are two main types of reactors: continuous and batch reactors.

Continuous reactors

As the name suggests, continuous reactors involve adding chemicals continuously at certain points of the chemical reaction process and allowing the final product to be discharged at a different point. However, for this to happen, the rate of reactants added to the reactor should be the same as the final products coming out of the reactor. Many laboratories do not use continuous reactors. An example of a continuous rector is the one found in water softening plants.


Continuous reactors are often used to process a significant amount of chemicals. They often operate for months on end without shutting down. There are various types of continuous reactors including fixed bed reactors, tubular reactors, fluid bed reactors, and Continuous stirred tank reactors(CSTR).

Batch reactors

Most reactions carried out in a laboratory involve the use of batch reactors in flasks, test tubes, or beakers. The reactants are mixed together and heated for the reaction to occur before they are cooled. The same process is used in industrial plants, but with significantly larger number of reactants and in much bigger reactors.

After the reaction, the batch reactor is cleaned to allow another batch of reactants to be added. This is one of the areas where chemical reactor services come in. Companies use batch reactors when they want to make a wide range of products comprising of different reactants and in varying conditions, but in the same equipment. The manufacture of margarine and food colors is often done in batch reactors.

Heat exchangers

Nearly all chemical reactions can be expedited at higher temperatures. Heat exchange is one of the most important factors in sulfur trioxide production where excess heat is used to warm incoming gases in chemical reactors.

The condenser at the top of a distillation column is another example of a heat exchanger. Heat produced by burning gases is used to boil water at the top of the distillation column.