A numerical study of cutting bubbles with a wire mesh

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Abstract

Gas-liquid-solid flows are frequently encountered in chemical, petrochemical and biochemical industries. To overcome the heat and mass transfer limitations in trickle bed reactors and bubble slurry columns, respectively, a micro-structured bubble column (MSBC) can serve as an attractive alternative. In a MSBC, wire meshes are introduced to cut the bubbles in smaller bubbles and enhance the surface renewal (and hence gas-liquid mass transfer) rates, by deformation of the bubbles. Earlier (Jain et al., 2013) modeling efforts using the Euler-Lagrange approach to simulate a micro-structured bubble column employed a bubble cutting closure based on purely geometrical considerations. To improve on this ad hoc procedure in this paper we explore the possibilities of Direct Numerical Simulations to gain more insight in this complex phenomenon with the ultimate aim to develop improved closures. A combined Volume of Fluid-Immersed Boundary method was applied to simulate the interactions between bubbles and wire meshes. When the bubbles are aligned with the opening of the wire mesh, cutting of the bubbles is not observed in our simulations, while cutting was expected based solely on geometrical considerations. When the Eötvös number, Eo, is larger than 4, the bubbles are highly deformable and squeeze themselves through the opening of the wire mesh. In addition, the bubble gets stuck underneath the mesh when the bubbles are small (Eo⩽4) and/or the opening is in the wire mesh is small. Almost all bubbles that hit the intersection of two crossing wires get stuck underneath the mesh, except for large bubbles (Eo=15), which get cut by the mesh. Based on these results, it is concluded that the cutting of bubbles depends on the Eötvös number, the opening of the wire mesh and geometrical considerations. However, the results also seem to indicate that the diameter of the wire mesh will also influence the cutting behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalChemical Engineering Science
Volume165
Issue number29 June 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2017

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Keywords

  • Bubble columns
  • Bubble cutting
  • Immersed Boundary method
  • Multiphase flow
  • Multiscale
  • Volume of Fluid model

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