A DNS study of flow and heat transfer through slender fixed-bed reactors randomly packed with spherical particles

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A fully resolved direct numerical simulation of flow and heat transfer is presented for slender randomly packed bed reactors. The flow and temperature field are solved over a non-body fitted, non-conformal Cartesian computational domain. The coupling between fluid and solid (both spherical particles and cylindrical wall) is enforced by a second order accurate, sharp interface immersed boundary method (IBM). The present numerical technique neither requires any challenging volumetric mesh generation process nor demands manipulation of the geometry near the particle-particle and particle-wall contact points. Conjugate heat transfer has been considered where the temperature field is calculated both inside the solid particles and in the fluid. A discrete element method (DEM) is used to generate the random packings of spherical particles in the cylindrical column, and a methodology is proposed to calculate the radial porosity profile of the bed. The column-to-particle diameter ratio (N) is varied from 4 to 8, and two separate cases have been considered where N→∞. The particle Reynolds number (Red) is varied from 1 to 500. The numerically obtained pressure drop and overall wall-to-bed heat transfer coefficient for different simulation cases are critically compared with empirical correlations and a good agreement is reported. Moreover, based on the current numerical results, correlations are proposed for the pressure drop and the wall-to-bed heat transfer coefficient. The effect of the column-to-particle diameter ratio (N) on both the flow and heat transfer, as-well-as the effect of the solid to fluid thermal conductivity ratio on the conjugate heat transfer are discussed. Furthermore, the fully resolved accurate numerical simulations have helped to elucidate the detailed pore-scale flow and heat transfer feature in the packed beds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalChemical Engineering Science
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2017


  • Conjugate heat transfer (CHT)
  • Direct numerical simulation (DNS)
  • Discrete element method (DEM)
  • Immersed boundary method (IBM)
  • Packed bed
  • Random packing


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