Particulate fouling of dry and liquid coated surfaces

K.K. Sathyanarayanarao Subbarao

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)

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Particulate fouling is the process of deposition of extraneous particulate matter on other surfaces. In particular, particulate fouling is a major cause of concern in energy-intensive heat recovery systems like biomass gasifiers, coal fired boiler and waste incinerators. The thermal energy is extracted from the flue gas using a system of heat exchangers. The flue gas is however contaminated with particulate matter, tar, nitrogen, sulphur and alkali compounds. The contaminants are transported by the flue gas and interact with the heat exchanger surface eventually forming a deposit layer. The deposit layers have very low thermal conductivity and leads to drastic loss in thermal efficiency apart from maintenance problems and capital losses. The focus of this research is to understand the process of particulate fouling from a fundamental view point based on particle surface interactions and the global effects associated with process conditions by experiments. A numerical model to capture the deposition and removal of particles over heat exchanger surfaces is aimed at. Particles which arrive at the heat exchanger surface and undergo inertial impaction can stick to the surface, rebound and might remove other previously deposited particles. In order to model the process, a sticking criterion is necessary. The interaction of a particle with other particles on the heat exchanger surface can be either in a dry state or in the presence of a thin liquid film due to condensation of alkali compounds. Detailed experiments were performed to evaluate the sticking criterion for particle impaction over a liquid coated surface under elastic and elastic-plastic deformation conditions. An empirical relation in terms of Stokes number was evaluated to determine the energy loss in the thin interstitial liquid film. A critical Stokes number range between 3 and 8 was observed below which particles do not rebound from the surface. In the Stokes number range of 8 to 20, the particles were observed to rebound but do not overcome the viscous effects of the liquid layer. A high-temperature closed-loop vertical wind tunnel was designed and constructed to perform fouling experiments under controlled conditions. The effect of gas velocity, particle concentration, particle size distribution, gas temperature, heat exchanger tube orientation and geometry was studied. A measurement technique that allowed the evaluation of temporal evolution of the fouling layer thickness was used. The experimental investigations revealed that the shear induced by the gas flowing around the tube has a major effect on the overall deposit growth dynamics. The geometry and orientation of the tube indicated that deposition and removal of particles is strongly coupled to the flow dynamics and particle surface interactions. A numerical model was implemented in a commercial software package to capture the deposition and removal of particles. The deposition model was based on particle-surface interactions including elastic-plastic deformations and the removal model was based on the rolling moment induced by the flow and on the energy transferred by other impacting particles. The fundamental impaction experiments along with the controlled experiments have provided better insight into the process of particulate fouling and resulted in the development of a numerical model which can be used to devise mitigation strategies for particulate fouling.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • van Steenhoven, Anton A., Promotor
  • Rindt, Camilo C.M., Copromotor
Award date16 Feb 2012
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Print ISBNs978-90-386-3088-5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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