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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 2, 2021

Review of piston reactors for the production of chemicals

  • Anchu Ashok , Mary Anna Katebah , Patrick Linke , Dharmesh Kumar , Dhruv Arora , Kai Fischer , Timothy Jacobs and Ma’moun Al-Rawashdeh EMAIL logo


To explore options for simple, safe, and compact chemical reactors that preserve wanted metastable initial products from sequential unwanted reactions, academic and industrial researchers have tried to repurpose reciprocating piston equipment or an “engine-like” design to be used as a chemical reactor. Piston reactors offer the benefit of achieving very high temperature and pressure conditions at very short and defined residence times. Such conditions offer promise for enhanced performance for several chemical conversions. This paper provides a review of the published literature and patents in the field of piston reactors to provide an overview of the current state-of-the-art. The review covers multiple aspects of piston reactors and their applications, reactor design options and their operation, catalyst and ignition placement, tested reactions, experimental setups as well as modeling and simulation. Several research gaps are highlighted as a motivation for future research in the field. To help interested readers into the topic, basic concepts and fundamentals of piston reactors are provided.

Corresponding author: Ma’moun Al-Rawashdeh, Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Doha, Qatar, E-mail:

Funding source: Qatar National Research Fund

Award Identifier / Grant number: NPRP12S-0304-190222


We would like to thanks Dr. Herman Kuipers for the fruitful discussion and valuable comments during the entire period of the manuscript writing process. The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the author(s).

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: This work was made possible by funding from the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) project no. NPRP12S-0304-190222 and co-funding by Shell Global Solutions International B.V.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding this article.


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Received: 2021-01-28
Accepted: 2021-06-04
Published Online: 2021-08-02
Published in Print: 2023-01-27

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