An analytical transport/reaction model was developed to simulate the catalytic performance of ZnO nanowires as a catalyst support. ZnO nanowires were chosen because they have easily characterized, controllable features and a spatially uniform morphology. The analytical model couples convection in the catalyst flow channel with reaction and diffusion in the porous substrate material; it was developed to show that a simple analytical model with physics-based mass transport and empirical kinetics can be used to capture the essential physics involved in catalytic conversion of hydrocarbons. The model was effective at predicting species conversion efficiency over a range of temperature and flow rate. The model clarifies the relationship between advection, bulk diffusion, pore diffusion, and kinetics. The model was used to optimize the geometry of the experimental catalyst for which it predicted that maximum species conversion density for fixed catalyst surface occurred at a channel height of 520 μm.