Analysis of Breakup & Coalescence Rates inside the Bubble Columns

Analysis of Breakup & Coalescence Rates inside the Bubble Columns

Azizi, S.; Lau, Y. M.; Schubert, M.

The prediction of bubble size distributions (BSD) in bubble column reactors is a great challenge for the column design and for the optimization of the operating conditions to enhance the gas-liquid mass transfer rates. The implementation of population balance equations (PBE) for bubbly flows into computational fluid dynamics (CFD) codes allowed better understanding of the hydrodynamic behavior of bubble columns and better quantification of the interfacial area for the estimation of interphase transport phenomena. On the other hand, the complexity of numerical models increased with the introduction of new sub-models for the determination of the BSDs. The formulation of sink and source terms of such PBEs is a very controversial issue. These terms depend on assumption on the dominating mechanisms due to turbulence, buoyancy, wake, shear, etc. However, the unknown physical effects, the variety of constants of breakup and coalescence (B&C) kernels as well as their complex coupling with the hydrodynamics of the flow prevent to generalize existing models.
In this work, a new approach was used to determine ‘experimental’ B&C rates along the axial height of bubble columns using measured BSD data at different axial positions. The required bubble size distributions were determined by dual plane ultrafast X-ray tomography applied at several heights of the bubble column. Tomographic images are obtained at high frequencies (>1000Hz) for two measurement planes. By cross examining the images of the two planes, bubbles can be identified and the velocities, hence the sizes can be determined.
Subsequently, the liquid velocity distributions were determined by an Eulerian-Eulerian CFD model based on the multi-size group (MUSIG) poly-disperse model approach using the ‘experimental’ B&C rates. Excellent agreement was found between the measured and the predicted BSDs, gas holdups and bubble velocities. The liquid flow patterns are very important since the existing theoretical correlations for the B&C models are based on the liquid hydrodynamic properties. Accordingly, the validated hydrodynamic data from CFD simulations can be utilized to determine the dominating mechanisms for the B&C models at different axial regions of the bubble columns, and to investigate the role of B&C rates for each mechanisms.

Keywords: Breakup and Coalescence; Bubbly Flow; Bubble Column; CFD; Eulerian-Eulerian

  • Lecture (Conference)
    21st International Congress of Chemical and Process Engineering, CHISA 2014, 23.-27.08.2014, Prague, Czech Republic